India intends to begin negotiations with Britain for signing a Preferential Treatment Agreement (PTA) for duty-free garment export after the country voted to leave the European Union.

“Garment export from India to European countries attracts 9.6 per cent duty, making our shipments uncompetitive in comparison with Bangladesh, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia. These countries have signed PTAs under which they export garments to the entire EU at nil duty. This is the right time to step up our efforts with the United Kingdom for a PTA and the ministry is looking into it,” textiles secretary Rashmi Verma told newsmen in Mumbai.

India’s textile export was estimated at 38 billion US dollar in 2015-16, a fourth to Europe. The UK imported 2.5 billion US dollar, a fourth of the EU consignments. “The UK is an important market for us,” Verma said.

She said the government is also simultaneously making a lot of effort at clinching a free trade agreement with the EU, giving it top priority as it is one of India’s biggest markets especially for textiles.

The government is also re-negotiating terms with countries such as Japan where there is a free trade agreement but the results haven’t been as expected.

The centre recently announced Rs 6,000 crore of incentive schemes for textiles, which it hopes would create 10 million additional jobs in three years.