Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday offered to hold negotiations with the new US administration on a mini trade deal by avoiding the earlier practice of nitpicking over small issues.
Addressing members of the US-India Business Council (USIBC), Goyal also expressed hope that American companies would bring in fresh capital in the insurance sector and not just replace Indian equity with theirs, given that India has raised the foreign direct investment cap in the sector to 74 per cent under the automatic route.
“Last time, when we were discussing (mini trade deal), we were nitpicking on very small issues and changing the goalpost. I think this time around we can look at the big picture. We have to sort out some of the issues that are much more relevant to larger engagement and leave some of the small things that were deal breakers earlier,” Goyal said in response to a question.
He said both the countries have to shift to broader areas given the fact that they complement each other and are hardly a competition to each other. “US has lots to offer in terms of technology, finance, innovation, whereas we in India have large market that we need to serve,” he said.
While reiterating India’s desire to engage with the US on expansion in the digital space, Goyal expressed concern at big corporations holding data of Indians, often using them for businesses in different sectors.
“The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has already put forth our first data privacy law, which is in the public domain. There are lots of concerns about the behaviour of big tech companies, including American companies, and India will like to protect its policy space. India would like to express its concerns about some of the big tech giants not willing to adhere to the law of the land and social fabric that we value in India,” he said.
He also suggested that US companies need to be sensitive to Indians’ pricing power.
“Earlier, we were talking of 5G. While we continue to engage much more with the US on 5G, because costs become exorbitant, India would not be in a position to accept those costs. The US needs to be very sensitive to price points in India,” he said.