FTA negotiations to boost trade & investment between EU, India

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 17 2010, 03:14am hrs
India and the European Union are on track to conclude FTA negotiations by early December. In the run up to the annual India-EU summit end of year, number of meetings are being lined up, prominently among which are meeting between the EU ministers from all sectors coming to India in November for negotiations, followed by the Anand Sharma going to Brussels for further talks.

Talking to a select group of mediapersons on late Tuesday evening, Daniele Smadja, ambassador and head of the delegation of the European Commission said that, The two sides are making extremely good progress in the EU-India FTA negotiations. Infact we expect that the negotiations will conclude by the time of the EU-India summit in Brussels, in December.

Concluding the FTA negotiations will send a clear signal of engagement on both sides. It would boost both trade and investment between EU and India. We need to seize the opportunity, Smadja said.

The EU is Indias largest trading partner, while India is the 10th largest trading partner for the 27-nation bloc. Due to the recession, the early part of the year saw trade being impacted. The crisis taught us that we cannot ignore emerging economies like India and China, she pointed out.

According to the EU envoy the Indo-European Free Trade Agreement (FTA) could be the right trigger for accelerating trade between the partners.

An Indo-EU FTA would particularly help businesses like textiles, leather, transport equipment, information services and metals, she added.

Negotiations for the FTA, which envisages eliminating duties on several goods and services, have been on since 2007. Seven rounds of discussions have not yielded much due to roadblocks on issues like intellectual property rights (IPR), competition, agriculture, market access and transparency.

Stating that India has moved up to the first ten in the list of the EUs major trading partners, she said once the FTA is finalised, business between the two would rise several fold.

Industry body Ficci estimates that bilateral trade could touch $572 billion by 2015 if the deal is completed.

Smadja added that talks on the FTA are in progress but, we need to need to have strong commitments from both sides on tariffs.

The region accounts for 20 % of Indias total trade representing a significant market for Indian textiles export.

Vice president Hamid Ansari will be representing India at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) to be held from October 4-5 in Brussels, Belgium.