India-EU FTA talks fail to bridge gaps; ministerial meet unlikely

The two sides began negotiations to iron out differences on various issues from May 13,spearheaded by their chief negotiators who joined them on May 15 to reach a final position on the proposed trade pact.

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Published: May 18, 2013 3:27 am

In a set back to talks for the long-pending India-EU free trade agreement (FTA),the chief negotiators’ meet today failed to bridge “substantial gaps” on crucial issues,including insurance and data security status for IT sector,creating a bleak possibility of a ministerial meet next month.

The two sides began negotiations to iron out differences on various issues from May 13,spearheaded by their chief negotiators who joined them on May 15 to reach a final position on the proposed trade pact.

However,the week-long talks ended with “substantial gaps” after which sources indicated that there might not be a ministerial meet,as was scheduled for next month,since the brain-storming session could not achieve any major deliverables. The sources noted that “a sense of urgency” as was witnessed in the previous rounds from the European side was “missing” this time and asserted “both sides failed to achieve any major breakthrough which was expected from this meet as this was treated as the penultimate round”. They also maintained that with “failure” of this round,now the inking of the agreement seems unlikely in the current regime in India,which will be soon poll bound. While Indian side was led by additional secretary in the commerce ministry Rajeev Kher,Ignacio Garcia Bercero headed the European Union (EU) side.

Launched in June 2007,the negotiations for the proposed broad-based bilateral trade and investment agreement (BTIA) between India and the EU has witnessed many hurdles. While on the first day itself,the EU side made it clear that hiking FDI cap to 49 per cent in the insurance sector was a must for concluding the negotiations,Indians expressed its inability to do so without Parliament’s nod.

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