New Delhi: Minister of Railways, Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food & Public Distribution, Shri Piyush Goyal today said that India can prove to be the most natural ally for the European Union (EU). Addressing the ambassadors of the EU member states today, he said that Partnership of EU and India can emerge as a model of Good governance, Growth & Development.
Shri Goyal said that India & EU’s ‘Union of Diversity’ shares values of Democracy & Rule of Law. They also share strong economic, socio-cultural, strategic and political ties. He said that India and EU are one of the world’s largest markets. EU countries collectively are the largest trading partner for India, as well as one of the largest investors in India. India-EU import-export flows are balanced and complementary. India-EU collaboration in research and innovation has expanded significantly, and there is large scope of further enhancement of engagement.
Talking about COVID-19, the Minister said that the year 2020 has tested world’s resolve and determination. He said that India imposed the strictest lockdown as we strongly believe “Lives matter”. During the lockdown, we were able to prepare ourselves and our infrastructure like ventilators, ICU beds, PPE kits, etc. Despite the lockdown, we met our international commitments, particularly in services & didn’t allow any value chain to get affected. We ensured essentials commodities like food grains, vegetables, milk, medicine etc reached each home, he added.
Shri Goyal said that after the gradual unlocking, Government’s efforts brought the economy back to the near normalcy. It maintained a delicate balance between lives & livelihoods. He said that the Government is conscious of the fact that COVID-19 numbers in 2nd wave are even more worrisome. He assured that the government is taking various steps to control the pandemic, while also protecting livelihoods.
Shri Goyal said that during COVID-19, investments have fallen worldwide, but they have grown in India. It shows that the world also appreciates & recognises India’s true potential, which is clearly evident by record FDI and Portfolio numbers, even during the COVID-19 year.
The Minister said that as the aftermath of the crisis is unfolding, Prime Minister with a spirit of “turning crisis into opportunity” gave a clarion call for Aatmanirbhar Bharat i.e. Self-Reliant India. He said that Aatmanirbhar Bharat does not mean being protectionist but it focuses on producing for India & the world – idea is to make India Global Manufacturing Hub, particularly in areas where our country has competitive strength.
Shri Goyal said that combination of India’s manufacturing & EU’s innovation capacity can be a game changer. Calling for Resilient India-EU relations, he said that India & EU should look at vast areas of Convergence. He said that India looks forward to advance the negotiations towards an agreement between India & EU on Investment facilitation & Protection for mutually beneficial outcome. He emphasised on the need for proportional & simultaneous discussions on both trade & investment, so that, we have balanced outcome for both parties. The Minister called for Early Harvest agreements, which he said are fully WTO compliant. He called for addressing the Non-tariff barriers on both sides.
Shri Goyal said that following the principles of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, India has sent more than 65 million COVID-19 vaccines to over 80 countries around the world. He said that India has proposed TRIPS waiver at WTO for a limited period so that humanity at large could have access to the COVID-19 related products, and sought the support of EU on the issue.
Shri Goyal also stated that WTO Reforms are a shared objective of India & the EU. He said that he is looking forward to working with the European counterparts to pave the way for the EU-India Summit in Porto in May this year.