Stalled FTA talks with EU to resume next month

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New Delhi | Published: December 17, 2015 1:20:07 AM

The annual India-EU summit-level meeting will be held in the first half of 2016, head of the EU delegation in India, Tomasz Kozlowski, said on Wednesday.

The annual India-EU summit-level meeting will be held in the first half of 2016, head of the EU delegation in India, Tomasz Kozlowski, said on Wednesday. “The EU-India summit will be held in the first half of 2016 at a mutually convenient date,” Kozlowski said at a media interaction in New Delhi. But before that, the two sides will resume talks on a free trade agreement, in an effort to bring the relationship back on track, next month in New Delhi.

The ‘stock-taking’ FTA talks, to be held on January 18, 2016, will take place after a gap of 30 months, and will not be a negotiation but a continuation of talks that had been put on a hold after the EU banned the sale of around 700 pharmaceutical products, clinically tested by Indian company GVK Biosciences, on the grounds of being unsafe. The talks, launched in June 2007, remain stuck as both sides were not satisfied with each other’s offers.

Responding to a question, the newly-appointed ambassador of the European Union  (EU) said the issue of the EU restricting the sale of the drugs does not stand any more, and both are now set to open a “new page” in their ties. “We are now working on mutually convenient dates for the summit,” he told media persons while describing India as an engine of growth for the global economy.

The last India-EU Summit had taken place in 2012. Ties witnessed some strain after the 28-member bloc had not responded to New Delhi’s proposal for a brief visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Brussels, the EU headquarters, during his trip to France, Germany and Canada in April. The summit is slated to be held in Brussels.

“We are now set open a new page in our ties,” Kozlowski said, adding the two sides were also finalising a pact to facilitate better movement of people from India to EU and vice versa. After a gap of about two years, chief negotiators of India and the EU were expected to resume negotiations in August this year, but India had deferred the talks after EU imposed the ban on the pharma products tested by GVK Biosciences.

Kozlowski said that the EU never banned Indian drugs and the issue was of testing and certification. Now, he said, both Indian exporters and European importers have managed certification for the drugs from other agencies and it was no more an issue.

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