On 30 May 2019, when the second Modi ministry took charge, Piyush Goyal, one of the trusted and performing ministers of the first term, was handed a new job – the role of minister of Commerce & Industry . He had many other important portfolios like Railways at that time, but PM Modi trusted him with the job, given his competence and work ethic.
In the last two years, he has delivered many victories on the Commerce & Industry front. From withdrawing Regional Comprehensive Economic Agreement (RCEP) to negotiating the first in a decade trade deal with a developed nation (Australia), he has kept the national interest above all and negotiated like a pro.
There was not a single credible criticism of the trade deals he negotiated with Australia and UAE. He also received much praise for his response in WTO in protecting India’s interest in fisheries subsidy and negotiating IPR waiver for vaccines.
He is running the Commerce & Industry ministry like a CEO and has delivered results faster than the corporate world. Under his leadership, India is negotiating more trade deals with countries including United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, and probably EU.
Reminder to the world
After attending a ministerial meeting of WTO, a coalition of developing countries, Goyal asserted, “No one can pressurise today’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. We can face any challenge. We don’t take any decision under pressure.”
Goyal took the stage to remind the world that India is taking everyone on board while being simultaneously committed towards sustainable development goals. “We presented our stand while keeping in mind the fundamental principles of sustainable development goals. We raised the concern of developing and underdeveloped countries,” added Goyal.
At WTO, he fought for India’s interest and argued for fair trade with duty waiver for developing countries. Emphasising how much the duty waiver is tilted against developing countries, Piyush Goyal added, “While small exporters of physical products like textiles, handloom, clothing, foot-wear, mainly based in developing countries, are facing both domestic taxes as well as customs duties, the big digital exporters are being exempted from custom duties due to the moratorium…”
Recently, he very bluntly told IPEF that the Indian govt will not come onboard on IPEF’s trade pillar. Piyush Goyal said that the trade pillar had many discrimination clauses against countries like India. The concerns include worries over digital trade, linkage of environment, labour to trade, binding commitments, benefits that arise, and responsibilities of the developed world.
The Minister of Commerce of Industry explaining the decision said, “We have to see what benefits member countries will derive and whether any conditionalities on aspects like environment may discriminate against developing countries, who have the imperative to provide low cost and affordable energy to meet the needs of our growing economy.”
However, India joined the other three Pillars – Supply Chains, Clean Economy and Fair Economy. In the statement, India said that we had engaged exhaustively on all four pillars, and was comfortable with the outcome statements on the other three pillars.
Proponent of Growth
He is one of the major proponents of India becoming 30 trillion dollars economy in next 30 years and is driving the country in that direction. During his address to the exporters and other textile industry stakeholders in Tiruppur, Goyal said, “In another nine years, that is 18 years from now, we will be about a $13- trillion economy. In another nine years after that, that is 27 years from now, we will be a $26-trillion economy… then obviously, in 30 years from now, confidently we can all expect that the Indian economy will be a $30-trillion economy…”
Also, he has set very ambitious goals of 1 trillion dollars exports in goods as well as services by 2030. The current export of India is 250 billion dollars in services and 422 billion dollars in goods. So, goods exports has to grow around 12% and services growth needs to be around 18% to achieve this ambitious target. This seems near impossible but the pace with which India is negotiating FTAs under the leadership of Piyush Goyal, this impossibility may become possible.
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