Indian trade at a 'watershed moment', says minister of state for commerce and industry

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The Indian minister of state for commerce and industry has discussed details of trade agreements and negotiations with countries including the UK, Canada and Australia.

India is going through a "watershed moment" with respect to free trade agreements (FTAs) and negotiations with various countries around the world, according to a government minister.

Anupriya Patel, the minister of state for commerce and industry, said the Asian nation is currently in the process of developing FTAs with the UK, Canada, Russia and the European Union, which could be concluded by the end of the year, the Press Trust of India reported.

This will help to build on the momentum achieved in Indian trade last year, when exports reached an overall value of US$675 billion (£546.1 billion) and merchandise exports totaled $US419 billion.

Ms Patel was speaking at an event organized to mark the signing of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with the United Arab Emirates and an economic cooperation trade agreement with Australia.

The deal between India and the UAE is already in operation and has been earmarked as a potentially major creator of jobs.

"Besides employment generation, these agreements will also lead to [an] increase in remittances following the increase in the Indian diaspora [in the two countries]," Ms Patel said.

India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry announced last week that the country had started the new financial year with a record US$38.19 billion in exports during April, an increase of 24.2% from a year earlier.

Petroleum products witnessed by far the largest year-on-year growth in exports, rising by 113.2%, followed by electronic goods (64%) and chemicals (26.7%).

Non-petroleum exports were up by 12.3% in April, while non-petroleum imports increased by 9.8% compared to the previous year.