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Posted: Friday, 16 April 2021 12:08

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India and EU getting Ready for FTA Talks in May

April 16: The negotiations between India and the European Union for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), that were called off in 2013 due to national elections in 2014 and the new BJP government seemingly did not take the initiative to pick up the threads from where the previous government had left off because of some critical issues, will re-commence on 8 May, 2021 as announced earlier, with the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday reaffirming the launch of next phase

Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday that the resumption of formal negotiations on India-EU trade deal during the leadership summit next month would help further strengthen the relationship with the 27- member European Union. During the bilateral virtual meeting with Portugal Foreign Affairs Minister Augusto Santos Silva, she said that resumption of formal negotiations on both Trade and Investment Agreements at the leaders' meeting of India and EU on May 8 in Porto, Portugal would be a notable success for the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of EU. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also slated to attend the summit.

After a gap of 8 years, India and the EU will resume formal negotiations, with both sides aiming to expedite the deal to aid economic growth in the post-pandemic era. The talks broke off in May 2013 with both sides refusing to budge from a few key issues. The elections in 2014 saw a new government take the reins but no resumption of formal talks.  

Also read : EU-India FTA Talks Restart on Optimistic Notes

After 16 rounds of talks between 2007 and 2013, negotiations for an India-EU FTA were stuck due to differences, as the EU bloc insisted that India cut import duties on automobiles and wine (which would benefit mainly France, Italy and Germany). The UK which was part of the EU then was insistent on reduction of duties on whisky.

Also read : European Union keen on FTA with India despite Protectionist Policies

With the UK exiting the EU since, the negotiations come at a time when the FTA seems to have lost some importance. The UK accounted for 16% of India’s $53.7-billion exports to the EU in 2020. Trade deals with both the EU and the UK independently are now being seen as crucial. India is also looking at the possibility of such a trade agreement with the UK.

Also read : India- EU Foreign Trade Agreement Talks might restart soon

Negotiations on India-EU trade deal to resume next month: FM - The Economic Times (indiatimes.com)

India and the European Union (EU) held talks in February this year on re-opening the dialogue on the Free Trade agreement (FTA). The meeting co-chaired by the Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal and the European Union Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis reiterated once again their interest in resuming negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial FTA ‘once their respective approaches and positions are close enough’. In the meantime, they examined alternative approaches and looked into the possibility of opening new areas of cooperation.

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

With both sides keen on the deal to aid economic growth in the post-pandemic era, it is likely that the talks may pick up speed after the May 8 meeting and not linger on for 7 years this time.

Also read : EU-India FTA may soon be on Back Burner

Subhash Arora

 

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