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Student visas were never part of FTA discussions with UK, says Piyush Goyal

Goyal said sensitive issues will not be allowed to scuttle the FTA talks with UK and they will focus on what is acceptable to both countries

Piyush Goyal | UK | free trade agreement

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

passport, H-1B visa

Student visas were never a part of the (FTA) discussions between India and the UK, commerce and industry minister said on Tuesday, according to news agency PTI.

"Have you ever heard of student visas being part of FTA? How many students go there (UK) to study? It's never a part of an FTA," he told reporters.

He also added that sensitive issues will not be allowed to scuttle the talks around the FTA and they will focus on what is acceptable to both countries.

"With UK, our approach is: Let's focus on what is acceptable to both the countries and let us not allow sensitive issues to scuttle our discussions," Goyal said.

A official recently said that granting more students visas to India was not part of this agreement.

British trade minister Kemi Badenoch, who is in-charge of the negotiations, has said that the trade agreement is expected to be clinched this year but it won't involve any boost of free movement visa offers for Indians.

In an interview with The Times recently, the secretary of state for trade also ruled out any major similarities between the FTA the signed with Australia post-Brexit and the proposed deal with India.

India has concluded the sixth round of talks with the UK and the next round will be held soon. Negotiations with the UK started on January 13 last year with an aim to boost bilateral trade and investments.

The bilateral trade between the two countries increased to $17.5 billion in 2021-22 compared to $13.2 billion in 2020-21. India's exports stood at $10.5 billion in 2021-22, while imports were $7 billion.

Replying to a query on India's decision to opt out from the trade pillar of the 14-member Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), Goyal said if India would find it in the interest of the country, it will be happy to join that pillar.

India opted out from the trade pillar "because we do not know the final contours, we don't know whether there are any binding commitments, we don't know whether there will be any restrictions which can hurt our manufacturing or hurt our economy.

"So until we see exactly what are the contours that are there and what are the benefits that are there, until that time we have said, we will observe what you (13 members of the IPEF) all are doing ,” he said.

India has not yet opted for it, as it is waiting to see what would be the final contours of this trade pillar and what it will get, he added.

The IPEF was launched jointly by the US and other partner countries of the Indo-Pacific region on May 23 in Tokyo. The 14 IPEF partners represent 40 per cent of global GDP and 28 per cent of global goods and services trade.

(With agency inputs)

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First Published: Tue, January 24 2023. 11:05 IST