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Posted: Wednesday, 30 October 2019 08:57

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India- EU Foreign Trade Agreement Talks might restart soon

Oct 30: When the Prime Minister of a country like India, Mr. Modi personally tells the visiting European Parliamentarians invited to visit Jammy & Kashmir, it is time to start thinking of the India-EU dialogue starting seriously once again, after the talks in the final round were suspended by the previous government in 2013, writes Subhash Arora who does not foresee any serious dialogue before the Brexit issue is settled and does not see import duties coming down for at least 3 years

Prime Minister Modi met over 20 European Parliamentarians going to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), New Delhi on Monday highlighting that the Government of India is keen on moving forward with the India-Europe Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA). 

While speaking to the 20 European MPs, PM Narendra Modi called for early conclusion of a fair and balanced Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) which he said he had termed a priority for the government. Formal talks that were started in 2007 were suspended after 6 years of meetings, on the proposed FTA in 2013 as the elections in India approaching in 2014 became politically the over-riding factors, even though the FTA was expected to help boost trade between both India and Europe significantly.

Since then, no formal meetings have been held though the representatives from both sides have had informal talks on 9 occasions, with August 5, 2019, being the last time that both sides had met to discuss the issue, according to the Report in DNA.

There have been many thorny issues to be resolved before any Agreement can be expected to be signed. Included in these problems is the high custom duty on wine imported into India from EU and their demand to reduce them, even if progressively.  “These can be sorted out,” reportedly said an official. At the present time there is no FTA between any other government that offers a favoured treatment on the import duty for wines, like Chile- Korea and China-Australia provide.

EU has also raised the issue of labour and human rights. Apparently, the EU also wants to be part of the government procurement, which India is obviously not keen on. Currently, India's trade regime and regulatory environment is perceived to be relatively restrictive.

Another tricky issue is the EU’s insistence of allowing import of fully-built cars to be allowed with reasonable duties. With the recession in the auto industry and the sales dwindling by almost 25%, the government of India is not willing to open up imports, at least for the next 5 years.

With European leaders agreeing postponement of Brexit deadline till January 31, the diplomatic circles are quietly talking about speeding up both India-UK and India-EU free-trade Agreements. According to commerce ministry officials, India is working to speed up negotiations on a free trade pact with both Britain and the EU to address the post-Brexit situation, despite past hiccups and slow pace. India and EU have a bilateral trade of around $115 billion, of which $21 billion is with Britain, making it more important to focus first on the talks with EU.

Next year, the 15th India-EU summit is expected to take place in Brussels, which can spur talks on the FTA. The previous Summit between India and the European Union (EU) was held in New Delhi in October 2017, which was represented by PM Modi.

For a few of the earlier Articles in delWine, please visit,

Indo-EU FTA Talks may start after Decade of non-conclusive Efforts

EU-India FTA: And the Beat Goes On

EU-India FTA Talks Take Off in First Gear

Decision on restart of India-EU negotiations soon

Blog: European Union Beware

Blog: Treaty with EU likely to go on the Back Burner

EU-India FTA may soon be on Back Burner

Subhash Arora

 

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