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Posted: Sunday, 03 July 2022 22:45

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India EU FTA: First Round of Negotiations concludes in Delhi

July 03: India and the 27-nation Bloc, European Union concluded the first round of negotiations for India-EU Trade and Investment Agreements, including the Geographical Indicators (GI), which started on 27 June and concluded i New Delhi on July 1, with a deadline of 2024, thus finally bringing down duties on wines imported from the EU hopefully by 2025. Subhash Arora who has been following the Talks since 2007 and had even predicted their failure in 2012, reports

The week-long negotiations were held in a hybrid fashion – with some of the teams meeting in Delhi while the majority joined in a virtually hybrid fashion. During this round, 52 technical Sessions covering 18 policy areas of FTA and 7 Sessions on Investment Protection and GIs were held.

India’s FTA negotiations were led by Chief Negotiator Nidhi Mani Tripathi, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce whereas the EU was represented by its Chief Negotiator, Christophe Kiener. The next round of negotiations is scheduled to take place in Brussels in September 2022 in two months.

The negotiations had been launched earlier by Piyush Goyal, Minister for Commerce & Industry and European Commission’s Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis in Brussels last month.

Despite global disruptions like Covid Pandemic and Russian- Ukraine war, bilateral trade grew at an impressive annual growth of 43.5% in 2021-22. India exported goods and services worth $65 billion out of its total export of $400 billion, according to Bharat Joshi of CII, and imported goods worth $51.4 billion, leaving India with a surplus of trade of $13.6 billion. At $116.4 billion, the EU is India’s second-largest trading partner after the US and also the second-largest destination for Indian exports.

The trade agreement with the would help India in further expanding and diversifying its exports of goods and services, including securing the value chains. Both sides are aiming for the trade negotiations to be broad-based, balanced, and comprehensive, based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity, according to a report in Times Now News.

Fifteen years after the talks began in 2007 and were abruptly cancelled due to several contentious issues in 2013 , with the Modi Government not in the mood to restart after coming to power in 2014, this time around there seems to be a feeling in trade circles that there is a different political context on both sides. India is reportedly willing to relent on the issue of reduction of duties on automobiles and wine.

The EU is the biggest promoter of Geographic Indicators (GI) especially in the agricultural sector and the number of GIs in India has been growing at a rapid pace, making it an increasingly important component of the talks. A GI is basically an agricultural, natural or manufactured product originating from a definite geographic territory. Such a recognition typically conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is traceable to the origin essentially. Prosecco, Champagne, Basmati Rice and Darjeeling Tea are a few of the examples of GI.

India recently signed an FTA with Australia when the talks appeared to fail but with a sudden turn around making an early harvest possible with the full agreement to be signed hopefully by the end of 2022/ Similarly, the FTA was signed in March this year with perhaps the fastest speed in the world.

Subhash Arora

 

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