Proposing a bilateral free trade agreement, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said India was open to discussing import of scotch whiskey from the UK in large quantity.
“I was hoping that that would have … excited the British team. I had said that I am open to discussing import of scotch whiskey into India also in larger measure, he said while addressing CII’s India-UK Economic Partnership Summit.
Goyal said a lot of spurious liquor that comes in the name of scotch to India, and he hoped the move would put an end to spurious liquor. He has proposed to the UK that both the countries should start engagement for a free trade agreement (FTA) as “it is the need of the hour”.
India is committed to an FTA with the UK and it will also be good for Commonwealth countries, he added.
“In the bargain, the FTA should also create lot of opportunities for our MSMEs, for our farmers, for our dairy, fishermen, handicrafts, textile, gems and jewelery. We have so many industries which have huge potential to work with the UK businesses,” the minister added.
He also said that as an FTA is very comprehensive in nature, normally it takes a good amount of time to sort out all the issues on the table. Hence, it may be a good idea to pick up 40-50 items on each side and look at a preferential trade agreement like an “early harvest”.
“I do sincerely believe that the time is opportune and right to have an early harvest between the two countries,” he added.
He further said the UK was a little uncertain about the early harvest agreement’s WTO compliance, but “we have got it examined and it is fully WTO compliant, so we must look at taking it forward expeditiously.”
Providing import duty related concessions to larger number of countries is far more difficult than in a bilateral agreement between two nations “where you give some, you get some”, he added.