New Delhi, 1 June, 2019: Piyush Goyal Friday took charge of the commerce and industry ministry at a time when global protectionism is rising at trade front and the need to push India’s exports is pressing.
Goyal, who also got the railway ministry, said, “I would like to thank Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) for the trust he has reposed in me by giving me this opportunity to look after the commerce and industry ministry”.
Goyal came to the ministry accompanied by former commerce minister Suresh Prabhu.
“I have a lot to learn from my senior colleague Prabhu Ji. I would continue to take his guidance and support,” he told reporters here.
Prabhu expressed confidence in Goyal and said officials and team in the ministry will work with him to push economic growth of the country.
The new commerce minister will have several task at hand like pushing India’s exports at a time when two large economies — the US and China — are engaged in trade war and other countries taking protectionist measures.
India’s merchandise exports grew 9 per cent to USD 331 billion in 2018-19. But, foreign direct investment inflows into India declined for the first time in the past six years in 2018-19, falling by 1 per cent to USD 44.37 billion.
Several new policies are there in the pipeline of the ministry and it includes new industrial policy, national e-commerce policy, national logistics policy, and foreign trade policy for five years.
The other key issues which the new minister has to look at such as conclusion of negotiations for the mega free trade agreement Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), further improvement of India’s rank in the World Bank’s ease of doing business report, and steps to revive special economic zones.
Goyal, a chartered accountant-turned-politician, is a Rajya Sabha member. Twice, he has held the finance portfolio in absence of former union minister Arun Jaitley.
Meanwhile, two Ministers of State for Commerce and Industry Hardeep Singh Puri and Som Parkash also took charge on Friday.
Puri, a former officer of Indian Foreign Service, lost from Punjab’s Amritsar to the Congress’ Gurjeet Singh Aujla by a margin of 99,626 votes.
He is also minister of state (independent charge) of the ministry of housing and urban affairs; and civil aviation.
Parkash is a former IAS officer and member of Parliament from the Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha constituency.
A prominent Dalit face in Punjab’s Doaba region, he defeated Congress nominee and legislator Raj Kumar Chabbewal from Hoshiarpur by just 48,530 votes.