Brussels: The European Union has indicated that more negotiations will be needed to sort out the remaining issues before a free trade agreement (FTA) with India can be signed.
The EU leaders, who held a special summit in Brussels, underlined the importance of building up bilateral trade relations with key emerging economies such as India, which could be "very beneficial for promoting growth and employment".
However, the EU's on-going negotiations with India on FTA will "require further efforts", they said in a joint statement issued at the conclusion of their two-day summit on Friday.
The leaders said that while the EU remained committed to further development of the multilateral trading system, its immediate focus is on developing bilateral trade relations.
"This can and must make a positive contribution to the multilateral system," they said.
"By building on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and by going further and faster in promoting openness, the EU's bilateral agreements will help to clear the way for further progress at the multilateral level," the statement said.
The heads of state and government of the EU suggested that all efforts should be made to pursue agreements with key partners, building on the tangible progress made in recent months in the EU's bilateral trade agenda.
They also stressed the need for "prioritising" those negotiations that will provide most benefit in terms of growth and jobs.
The European Council looks forward to the report of the EU-US high level working group on jobs and growth and its recommendations.
The EU leaders called upon the European Commission and the European Council to follow up on these recommendations without delay during the current presidency, they said.
The EU leaders reaffirmed support for a comprehensive trade agreement which should pay particular attention to ways to achieve greater trans-Atlantic regulatory convergence.
They also noted that the EU's agenda with China is "broad and ambitious". Priorities in the short term should focus on investment, market access, procurement and intellectual property rights and should be based on a constructive and strategic engagement.
They stressed the need for further deepening the trade relations with the ASEAN countries in addition to the conclusion of the negotiations with Singapore.
They reaffirmed commitment to a successful conclusion of the negotiations within WTO's Doha Development Agenda (DDA). This required efforts from all participants in the negotiations, in particular from large emerging economies.
In the short term, it is important for progress to be made towards a multilateral agreement on trade facilitation as well as on other aspects of the DDA, by the time of the 2013 WTO ministerial conference in Bali.
First Published: Saturday, February 9, 2013, 15:51