India is interested in reviving FTA talks with EU: Nirmala Sitharaman

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Published: September 9, 2015 11:21:46 PM

India is interested in reviving negotiations with the European Union, but the 28-nation bloc has to respond to issues related to pharmaceutical sector, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today.

India is interested in reviving negotiations with the European Union, but the 28-nation bloc has to respond to issues related to pharmaceutical sector, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today.

“I am interested in reviving (talks), but we want answers too,” she told reporters here.

Expressing disappointment and concern over EU’s banning the sale of around 700 pharma products clinically tested by GVK Biosciences, India last month deferred talks with the EU on the proposed the Broad-based Investment and Trade Agreement (BTIA).

Sitharaman said India took the decision very much “unilaterally” but after quite a lot of thought on it and added it was India which had emphasised that the chief negotiators should meet at the earliest so that FTA with EU will move forward.

“Unfortunately, the decision which came from the EU to ban nearly 700 Indian drugs that after not getting a response from them, the Prime Minister when he was in France had asked them the question. I had asked my counterpart when I met her in Paris…

“… But none of that (efforts) had resulted in complete explanatory position of the EU as to what warranted the banning of drugs on which there is no question about the security, safety of the drugs per se,” She said.

She further said the senior officials too engaged with the EU in a very detailed way.

“…if there were some clinical trials on which they had questions we were asking them about it on which they had not given us a reply and all these drugs are still in use,” the minister said.

She questioned EU’s unilateral step to ban drugs without replying to India’s queries on the Indian sector, saying it has established is internationally acceptable quality for providing life saving drugs at affordable price.

“I thought India’s USP, India’s brand and India’s strength was being questioned” by their action, she added.

Further replying on the issues to be discussed in the first meeting of ‘Strategic & Commercial Dialogue’ on September 22 with the US, Sitharaman said greater market access, visa liberalisation and non-tariff barriers would come up among other matters.

“We are looking at pharma, non-tariff barriers on many merchandise goods and more important movement of natural persons. These are the main issues on which the negotiations would happen.

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