When German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in New Delhi this Sunday, India needs to revive the much-delayed—15 rounds of talks have taken place since 2007—India-EU (EU) negotiations on the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA). In August, India broke the talks after EU banned the sale of 700
India-made generic drugs, alleging manipulation of clinical trials data. It is time India realises that a well-negotiated agreement with our largest trading partner—the EU as a single unit—is crucial for the country. The agreement could double trade with the 28-nation block from the $99 billion in FY15. Germany was the lead contributor with $20 billion.
India needs the BTIA more than the EU, which is in talks with the US for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Once the TTIP is in place, Indian goods could find it difficult to access the EU market. Having the BTIA would ensure that Indian exports to EU are not hit. EU demands include lower import duties for automobiles, wines, spirits, dairy products and a stronger IPR regime, in sync with the European pharma agenda. On the EU demand for liberalisation in insurance and legal services, India has moved forward by hiking FDI in insurance to 49%. India is seeking a data-secure nation status which allows companies looking to outsource European business avoid onerous contractual obligations that raise operating costs and affect business competitiveness. One sore point with the EU has been the arrest of the Italian marines. It is in
India’s interests to resolve all issues so that we can sign the BTIA. Merkel’s three-day visit is a good point to restart the negotiations.