Mining, FDI reforms in the offing, says Piyush Goyal

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal  said the government is working on reforms in the mining sector and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in sectors where it is constrained at present.

“There are further reforms in mining and FDI in certain sectors where it is constrained. We will simplify processes and make it easier to do business here,” he said at the India Global Week event.

FDI into India rose 13% to a record $49.97 billion in FY20 from $44.36 billion a year earlier.

“A new industrial policy and forest policy are being planned. We are looking at banking sector and capital market reforms,” he said, adding that the government is working on 100% electrification of the railways.

“By 2030, we hope the railways will be net zero emission. The railways is bidding out £400 billion of projects in the public-private partnership (PPP) mode in the next 12 years,” he said.

As per the minister, the government is relooking all projects in terms of the post-Covid world and there would be cost cutting.

The costing of projects including the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train have been impacted by the pandemic.

Growth revival

Goyal said there are a number of indicators where economic activity has shown quick ramp-up.

“We will be able to recoup very quickly. We will be able to bring the economy back to last year’s level in 3-4 months with rapid growth,” he said.

Explaining that there has been a 5-6% degrowth in world economy and similarly in India, he said the first quarter was “pretty bad considering the strict lockdown” but India has demonstrated the ability to bounce back and its resilience.

Trade pacts

India can do an immediate preferential trade agreement (PTA) with the UK and EU with the long term goal of a free trade agreement (FTA), Goyal said.

“We can come on terms for the first 25-50 items. We will negotiate with no preconceived notions, no red lines. An early harvest with the UK can be done if they are willing to,” Goyal said at the India Global Week event.

Stating that India can give many products to the UK such as textiles and leather, he said: “The UK can supply us with high quality cameras, automobiles and even spirits. I am coming for negotiation with an open mind”.

Similarly, India is in talks with the EU after years of stalemate and an early harvest PTA could be done in the short run with the long term goal of an FTA.

Goyal said India is committed to fair trade on the basis of reciprocity.

On the issue of India banning Chinese apps, he said it is a security concern and companies have been asked to furnish certain details