Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday exuded confidence that negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and the UK would be launched next month and with Canada by March-April. He was speaking at the 94th Annual Convention of industry body Ficci here.
Goyal said he will be in Mumbai on Saturday and engaging with exporters and the retail industry to examine the benefits of the free trade pact with the UAE. "Along with that we are looking at other engagements with the UAE, which will be announced shortly, but we are still working to see whether we can have something like a large India Mart in Dubai where a huge number of stores can come up to display Indian products, a huge amount of warehousing can be picked up at affordable prices," he added. The minister said such a mart will help Indian exporters to increase their presence all across Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world. He said India is in discussions with other countries and regions too for free trade pacts. "So, we are looking at new ideas along with the FTA with the UAE. We are also simultaneously in discussion with Australia…UK, we launch possibly next month. Canada we may launch by about March or April," he said.
Goyal, who also holds the textiles portfolio, said a "trillion-dollar opportunity" is waiting for the textiles industry, which is the largest job-creating sector in the country after farming. The proposed FTA between India and UK is expected to unlock extraordinary business opportunities and generate jobs. Goyal said most of the industries in the country are doing reasonably well, but still, there are few sectors that are under stress. He also said a USD 400 billion of merchandise exports in the current fiscal looks to be a reality.