NEW DELHI: Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said India is looking to expand trade relations with the US, although the proposed trade deal may take time.
In a reference to China, he said there is a need to scrutinise investment proposals from “opaque” economies in the neighbourhood.
“We are looking at expanding our trade ties through removal of nontrade barriers, through better mutual recognition agreements,” Goyal said at the Times Network India Economic Conclave.
Goyal had his first conversation with Katherine Tai, the new US trade representative (USTR), on Thursday. The two countries discussed ways to expand trade, cooperate on digital trade, intellectual property, agriculture, labour, climate and environment, the USTR said in a statement.
Making it clear the investment checks are not linked to border tensions with China, Goyal said, “Since some investments coming from our land-bordering countries were also associated with military ownership, it is in the strategic interest of India to know exactly where the money is coming from. When you are dealing with opaque economies, it’s very important to be careful.”
The minister said government policies have helped boost investor confidence and FDI flows are rising. He said overall exports, comprising goods and services, may be around 7% lower during the financial year, while trade deficit would narrow.
Goyal, who also holds the food and consumer affairs portfolio, blamed the Punjab government and left-leaning leaders for protests on farm laws.
“Farmers across the country are happy with the laws. They see growth, investments, higher income. These laws do not take away anything from the farmers, they are an added option to the farmers,” he said, adding there was little support to the agitation, which was seen in the repeated failure to enforce Bharat Bandh.
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Desley Sherwin, senior associate at Roythornes.