PM urged not to sign EU FTA in haste

Written by Kirtika Suneja | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 12 2013, 10:17am hrs
Voicing its apprehensions on India signing a free-trade agreement (FTA) with EU, the Parliamentary standing committee on commerce has asked the government not to a take a final decision till the panels deliberations on it got over.

Stating that the FTA in the current form could be detrimental to New Delhi's interests, committee chairman Shanta Kumar shot off a letter to the PM Manmohan Singh, conveying the panel's concerns. The panel met here on Thursday.

I have written a letter to the PM today raising the issue of agriculture and that the present form of the agreement is harmful to our farmers' interests. Though a detailed discussion is yet to happen, but we did a detailed concessional review of the proposed agreement, said Shanta Kumar.

This assumes significance in the wake of Prime Ministers visit to Germany and commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma's meeting with the EU trade commissioner on April 15 to decide the fate of the crucial trade agreement.

The most important priorities for the EU are wines and spirits, and other key agriculture exports (dairy, olive oil, malt, processed agricultural products). India's key export interests in the FTA are rice, sugar, fruit and vegetables (both fresh and processed).

The EU views India as a significant market for the future. It is hoped that the FTA will secure greater market access for main EU export products through lowering of tariffs. As an example, current duties on wines and spirits are 150%.