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India's heart with US rather than China-led trade pact RCEP: Piyush Goyal

Goyal asked Wang if Beijing regretted that India chose not to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Piyush Goyal insisted members water down the WTO’s subsidy rules for government-backed food-purchasing programs aimed at feeding poor citizens. (Photo: Bloomberg)

Piyush Goyal (Photo: Bloomberg)

Press Trust of India New Delhi

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At a session with Chinese and US trade ministers, Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said India did not join China-led RCEP as its trade deficit would have widened and New Delhi's "heart" is with Washington, hinting at the trade surplus with the US.
The Commerce and Industry Minister's remarks at the B20 summit in the national capital while moderating the 'Trade Ministers' Session' where Wang Shouwen, Vice Minister in the Ministry of Commerce of China and US Trade Representative Catherine Tie were present.
Goyal asked Wang if Beijing regretted that India chose not to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
To this, Wang said China and India's trade relationship has been growing very fast and last year, the bilateral trade reached USD 130 billion.
"If there had been an FTA agreement between China and India, either bilaterally or in RCEP context, the trade potential (that) exists between our two countries will be much further tapped in to the benefit of our two peoples. So, it is your decision to decide whether you will join RCEP but the RCEP door will be always open to India," Wang said.
Responding to the comment, Goyal said the bilateral trade would have gone up, but also the trade deficit.
"We are already concerned that the bilateral trade even though USD 130 billion is largely skewed in favour of China. The Indian industry feels that if you had entered into this agreement with the RCEP this trade would have suddenly increased, but it would only have increased the trade deficit further..."

The Indian minister also wondered how China does the costing and pricing of goods it exports.
"...it's a matter that I think all the ministers would like to know how you can supply goods at less than the raw material costs," Goyal asked.
In reply, Wang congratulated Goyal for being a very successful trade minister for India.
"...even though you are not able to balance your trade with each and every ... trading partner, you have been very successful in maintaining a global trade balance overall for the country.
"So it is natural that you will have trade deficits with countries like China, but you will also have a trade surplus with other countries. It is very good that you are able to maintain your trade balance globally," he added.
With the US, India enjoyed a trade surplus of about USD 28 billion during 2022-23, while there was a deficit of about USD 83 billion with China, as per the commerce ministry data.
Making India's stance clear in a lighter vein, Goyal recalled an incident in the Rajya Sabha when the leader of the opposition (Mallikarjun Kharge) complained that the Chairman always looked to the treasury benches to his right-hand side and not towards the opposition parties sitting on the left.
"The Chairman had retorted that his heart was on the left-hand side. So my heart here is with (USTR) Catherine Tie from the United States of America (who was sitting on Goyal's left side)," the Indian trade minister said amid applause from the audience, largely comprising domestic and global business leaders.
Goyal also applauded the USTR's leadership in bilaterally resolving six out of seven disputes at WTO between India.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Aug 25 2023 | 10:26 PM IST

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