India-EU trade talks agreement from Oct 1

Written by Agencies | New Delhi, September 29: | Updated: Sep 29 2007, 20:57pm hrs
India and the European Union will begin on Monday negotiations on an ambitious agreement aimed at opening trade and total elimination of duties over the next 10 years.

A 40-member delegation from EU will hold extensive talks with Indian officials for six days beginning October 1.

"If everything goes well, we should be in a position to conclude the comprehensive trade and investment agreement with the 27-nation bloc by 2008-end," Commerce Secretary Gopal Pillai said.

Pillai said the operationalisation of the agreement would be spread over the next 10 years, by when duties on bulk of the goods traded between India and EU would be brought to zero.

"We can expect tariffs to come down to zero only by 2019, since the elimination process would be carried out in a phased manner," he said.

India started negotiations with the EU, its largest trading partner, in 2006 on a comprehensive trade and investment agreement, including services.

Pillai said during negotiations India would primarily focus on Mutual Recognition Agreement, flexible Rules of Origin and movement of people.

UN body UNCTAD has prepared an extensive list of items involving 340 tariff lines, which should be put in the sensitive list by India. Items under this list are kept out of the duty elimination, keeping the domestic interest in mind.

"This is not a final list. We will have to shift items based on trade complementarities," the Commerce Secretary said.

India has concluded trade agreements with Singapore and Sri Lanka and is negotiating agreements with a host of other countries and trading blocs.