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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

No deal: India and EU push free trade pact to autumn

Talks between the two sides remained inconclusive on Friday.

Written by Shruti Srivastava | New Delhi | Published: February 10, 2012 10:16:40 pm

More ground needs to be covered before India can wrap up the much-delayed Broad-Based Trade and Investment Agreement — or free trade pact — with the European Union. Talks between the two sides remained inconclusive on Friday. The widely expected “political framework” failed to find mention in the joint statement,which fixed no timeline for the conclusion of the talks.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office noted that “there are complex issues involved,but we have both agreed to expedite discussions so that we can conclude an agreement at the very earliest”.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso,however,expressed optimism about concluding the free trade deal later this year. “Our positions are now closer in all areas and the contours of the final agreement are emerging. We have,therefore,committed to intensifying these negotiations. I expect the finalisation of these negotiations this autumn,” he said at the twelfth India-EU Summit.

India and 27-nation bloc have been in talks since 2007,and have had 14 rounds of negotiations so far. The talks were to conclude in 2011,but differences persisted on the extent of market access,services,cars and wines. The EU wants tariffs on wines and automobiles to drop from the current 150 per cent and 60 per cent; India wants easier visa and employment norms for services sector professionals.

“Both sides have made considerable progress in the negotiations on the Broad-Based Trade and Investment Agreement… We seek solutions that are practical,mutually beneficial and acceptable to both sides,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at the Summit.

The agreement will give India access to a huge market of 27 nations for its services in IT,ITeS,nurses and chefs. A crisis-ridden EU will,on the other hand,get a new market for its cars,wines and legal and accounting services.

The EU is India’s largest trading partner. Trade in goods and services accounted for around Euro 86 billion in 2010. The EU exported goods worth Euro 34.7 billion to India,and imported worth Euro 33.2 billion. In services,India exported Euro 8.1 billion in 2010,and imported Euro 9.8 billion. India accounts for 2.6 per cent of the EU’s total exports and 2.2 per cent of imports.

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