India-EU aim for 100-bn euro trade by 09

Marseilles, Sep 29 | Updated: Sep 30 2008, 05:59am hrs
India and the European Union (EU) on Monday agreed to conclude a broad-based trade and investment agreement by 2009 and double their trade turnover to 100 billion Euros in the next five years, giving a fresh impetus to their strategic partnership.

The decision was taken during the Ninth India-European Union(EU) summit which was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and French President Nikolas Sarkozy in his capacity as chairman of the rotating presidency of the 27-member EU in this resort town of French Riveira.

Addressing a joint press conference with Sarkozy and European Commission President Manuel Barrosa at the end of the day-long summit, Singh announced that the worlds two largest trading partners are expected to wrap up the ambitious Trade and Investment Agreement by 2009.

A joint press communique issued at the end of the summit said EU and India recognised the importance of conclusion of the trade agreement to fulfill the expectations of businesses on both sides and to further strengthen the bilateral economic relationship. Towards this end, the communique said they will endeavour to achieve a balanced and ambitious outcome.

While welcoming the signing of a landmark horizontal civil aviation agreement which will allow more airlines to operate flights between India and EU countries, the communiqu said they are working on a maritime transport agreement that will be mutually beneficial.

Sarkozy at a joint press conference with Singh and European Commission President Barrosa said trade expansion and a new trade agreement will be important pillars to give a new dimension to Indo-EU strategic partnership. Both Singh and Sarkozy pushed for a summit of major economic powers this year-end to coordinate a response to the global financial crisis.

The leaders also discussed the pressing needs to address the impact of the ongoing financial difficulties in the international financial sector and to adjust global economic imbalances through concerted action from leaders of the world economy.

They agreed in principle that a well prepared international Summit be convened to consider this issue before the end of the year, the joint press communique said. Sarkozy said India is clearly conscious that it risks being affected by the financial crisis that began in the US. The leaders of both India and EU also discussed about the current state of play of the Doha Development Agenda negotiations and reaffirmed their willingness to conclude a comprehensive and balanced trade agreement which would bring substantial gains to the world economy and in particular to developing countries.

The EU and India recognised the importance of the early conclusion of the broad based trade and investment agreement,to fulfill the expectations of businesses on both sides and to further strengthen the bilateral economic relationship, the communique said.

Towards this end, the EU and India endeavour to achieve a balanced and ambitious outcome.

PTI