Countries across the world are looking at India as a trusted partner and want to sign free trade agreements with it after its emergence as a strong force in the world, Textile Minister Piyush Goyal said in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
He said talks are underway with the European Union, Gulf countries, Canada and the United Kingdom for free trade agreements (FTA) and the FTAs with two developed economies of the UAE and Australia will be enforced in this year alone.
Replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour, the minister said it is true that in last few years, Bangladesh and Vietnam have made progress in the field of cotton textiles and garments.
Bangladesh is still the least developed country (LDC) and will remain so till 2026 and because of that it gets duty free access in all world markets, he noted.
Similarly, Vietnam has a FTA with the European Union due to which they get duty free access to the big market while our garments attract 9 to 10 percent duty in EU markets, he noted.
Due to this, Bangaldesh and Vietnam benefitted but we could not benefit and the FTA agreement with European Union being discussed in 2013 could not happen, the minister said.
Goyal said after the prime minister’s efforts, India is emerging as a strong force across the world and once again the world is keen to increase trade with India and sign FTAs.
“I am happy to share with you that in one year alone, FTA with two developed countries – UAE and Australia will be enforced. With the UAE, the FTA has come into force from May 1 this year, which is a record time, and the FTA with Australia will enter into force from December 29 this year,” the minister said.
“There are six Gulf Cooperation Council nations with which FTAs are being discussed. Besides there are talks going on with the European Union, Canada and United Kingdom for FTA agreements. This shows that the entire world is looking towards India and they are seeing that India will be a trusted partner in the coming times,” he said.
Goyal said the Agriculture and Textile ministries have together formed a Textile Advisory group.
“Only yesterday, in Varanasi during the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam people in the cotton textile sector from across the country from farmers to exporters got together and expressed satisfaction with the manner in which work on the cotton sector is being done. The future is bright,” the minister said.
He was replying to a supplementary about Indian cotton garments not making progress in foreign markets while those of Bangladesh and Vietnam have done so.
On whether the Government is considering including cotton in the Essential Commodities Act, considering the dominant position of cotton and the shortage of raw cotton in the textile industry, the minister said in his written reply, “There is no such proposal at present. There is adequate availability of cotton in the country as the estimated cotton production is 341.91 lakh bales and consumption is 311 lakh bales.”
On government considering to remove basic custom duty and Agriculture Infrastructure Development Cess being levied on import of cotton, he said there was no such proposal.
The minister also said that India exported total cotton yarn of 1.26 million tonnes in 2018-19 which has gone up to 1.39 million tonnes in 2021-22.
India’s export of cotton garments have gone up from 1739.61 million square metres in 2018-2019 to 2374.48 million square metres in 2021-22.
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