Goyal said 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".
"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.
"...not that I drink scotch whiskey in any way, but my intention was, we hear that lot of spurious liquor that comes in the name of scotch to India, I was hoping that would put an end to spurious liquor, get genuine material for those who can afford and want it," he said while addressing CII's India-UK Economic Partnership Summit.
"But in the bargain, 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.
Goyal said both the sides can increase cooperation in sectors where the UK is a net importer and India has a net competitive and comparative advantage.
"I think a small 'give' can give us a large 'get' in favour of India and I do hope that we are able to take this dialogue forward in a staged manner but in an expeditious manner," Goyal said.
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".
The minister said both sides can pick up certain items which are of serious interest to them and where there is good potential for increasing trade.
"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."
Further, he said 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".
Talking about data related issues, Goyal said India is currently witness to a revelation about how certain countries or companies from certain nations are indulging in a lot of data management, analytics and crunching, "which is not in India's national security interest".
"I think it is important that the countries around the world recognise the importance of cyber security, importance of privacy, particularly privacy of personal data of businesses and individuals," he said.
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