India has chosen to stay out of the Trade Policy Pillar – which deals with issues pertaining to labour, environment, digital, and agriculture at the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum (IPEF) – a two-day ministerial meet of 14 countries taking place at Los Angeles, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Friday.
While India has not joined the trade pillar, it is engaging in three other areas – supply chains, clean energy, and fair economy (tax and anti-corruption issues), officials said.
“India is not now in the trade pillar. However, minister (Piyush) Goyal and I have been talking and we have our bilateral and trade policy forum,” Tai told reporters at a briefing. “I should be meeting him by the end of this year. We would cover the same issues in that bilateral channel. Minister Goyal and I will stay in touch, but he is not now in the trade pillar.”
Commerce and industry minister Goyal held bilateral meetings with Tai and US commerce secretary Gina Raimondo on Thursday on the sidelines of the IPEF ministerial meeting.
“India will act in national interest; we also have to become a developed country, so we have to keep our own national interest in mind,” a senior Indian government official said, adding that India’s own policy in these areas is still evolving. “India has agreed to the remaining three pillars. We are not yet clear on the binding commitments of the trade policy. So, we will wait and see what are the commitments set out in further deliberations, and we will act accordingly,” the official said.
India “cannot agree on free agriculture trade”, but if it is high standard of export, we are agreeable, the person said. “India has stood up to its own interest and we can’t be arm-twisted like smaller countries,” the official said.
IPEF has 14 members – Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the US.
The framework is structured around four pillars relating to trade, supply chains, clean economy, and fair economy.
IPEF was launched jointly by the US and partner countries of the Indo-Pacific region on May 23 in Tokyo. It seeks to strengthen economic partnership among participating countries with the objective of enhancing resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness and competitiveness in the region.
“That question you should pose to minister Goyal,” Tai told reporters when asked why India opted out of the trade pillar. “I would not characterise it as opting out, India is not in the trade pillar right now,” she added.
Goyal had said on Thursday that during the bilateral with the US, several areas of mutual interest where the two countries share concerns were discussed.
ETRise MSME Day 2022 Mega Conclave with Industry Leaders. Watch Now.