Left it to USTR on timing of initial trade deal: Goyal

Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said India is ready to sign an initial trade agreement with the U.S. and that he has left it to his American counterpart to take the final call on its timing.

He also said India is in continuous dialogue with the U.S. on the agreement.

Mr. Goyal said he and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer had sorted out most of the issues around this initial trade pact.

“I just had a conversation with Ambassador Lighthizer and we both agreed that we can look at doing it before the (U.S.) elections also but otherwise, soon after the elections… the entire package is near ready and can be finalised at any time that the local political situation in the U.S. permits them to. I am open to signing up tomorrow what we have agreed upon and I have left it to Bob to take a final call,” he said.

The Minister made the remarks during a conversation with Ajay Banga, U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) board member and CEO, Mastercard. The Minister said the agreement could have been signed during the India visit of U.S. President Donald Trump in late February, but a “few dots and commas” had to be finalised and soon after “we were all faced with COVID-19 pandemic.”

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