Union minister for commerce and industry Piyush Goyal during the ‘Strategic Outlook: The Indian Ocean Rim session’ at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters on Tuesday. (Photo: PTI)
Union minister for commerce and industry Piyush Goyal during the ‘Strategic Outlook: The Indian Ocean Rim session’ at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters on Tuesday. (Photo: PTI)

India seeks fairer, more equitable terms in trade deals: Piyush Goyal at WEF

  • Union commerce minister says RCEP is an unworkable agreement for New Delhi in its current form
  • India is grappling with a huge trade deficit, particularly with China, said the commerce minister

Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said India is working on ways to have fairer and more equitable terms in its trade relationships with various countries.

Speaking here at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020, the commerce and industry minister also called for greater cooperation among various nations to realize the huge growth prospects in the Indian Ocean region and also for tackling the important issue of climate change.

Goyal said RCEP in its present form was clearly an unworkable agreement. “Any pact needs to take into account several factors. India is grappling with a huge trade deficit, particularly with China and many other nations in the region," he said.

For the first time, India demonstrated that trade cannot be dictated by diplomacy, Goyal said, referring to India’s decision to pull out of the RCEP.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has had to factor in several diversities among partners, but India has serious concerns about climate change and is seeking greater cooperation on fair terms, he asserted.

Goyal was speaking at a Strategic Outlook session on ‘The Indian Ocean Rim’.

“We are like a pivot for the Indian Ocean and we believe this region has huge potential. At the same time, India is very much concerned about the issue of climate change.

“Going forward, the entire grouping around the Indian Ocean will play a very important role, while keeping in mind fair and equitable distribution. India also expects greater cooperation among various nations on climate change," he said.

Goyal further said, “We in India are also working on how to put in place more equitable terms in our trade relations with various countries." The Indian Ocean Rim sees two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments pass through its waters and is home to half of the world’s container ships that support 2.7 billion people.

The panellists discussed the strategic priorities for the Indian Ocean Rim in 2020, including advancing regional cooperation, strengthening the blue economy and mitigating climate change.

The panellists included Samir Saran, president, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer DP World Limited; Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance; Leader of the Government in the Senate of Australia; and Njoki Njehu, Director, Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Center, Kenya.

Goyal also said India has contributed the least to global warming but is still being very responsible on fossil fuels, while the western world is not doing enough even after accounting for more than half of the carbon emissions.

The commerce minister added that India is committed to safeguarding the interest of its people while welcoming investors from across the world by making regulations easier for them.

“When it comes to governance and easing regulations, India was at a disadvantageous position for many years but a conscious decision was made soon after our government came to remove all those legacy issues and to make the growth story equitable for all," the minister for railways as well as commerce and industry said.

“We want to provide right opportunities for our people and at the same time safeguard the interests of the investors as well.

“We are always trying to make India more investor friendly and we are talking to our friends across the world on how to improve our infrastructure. We are showcasing infrastructure projects in various countries to get the best from them," he said.

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