FTA: EU members willing to work out 'balanced outcome'
New Delhi: Amid differences over the extent of duty cut in automobile sector, the EU is ready to work out for a "balanced outcome" in the proposed free-trade agreement with India, according to the visiting Members of the European Parliament.
"During a detailed discussion on liberalisation of the automobile sector, the EU members said that though access for automobiles is on the top of their agenda they were willing to work out a balanced outcome," CII said in a statement.
The issue came up for discussion during the meeting between industry body CII and Members of the European Parliament here. India and the 27-nation bloc have been negotiating for the Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) since June 2007.
Major differences on various issues including significant duty cut in automobile and wines and spirits have held up conclusion of the talks. So far both the sides have completed 15 rounds of negotiations.
The EU members during the interaction with CII have expressed the willingness to build a supply chain across the two regions particularly in some key sectors of interest to both sides.
While pitching for early conclusion of the free-trade agreement, CII sought "greater understanding from the European Union (EU) while seeking access in sensitive sectors like automobiles, which support a large workforce in the country".
It said that automobile has been a major source of employment in India and the sector has contributed to growth of manufacturing and created high quality jobs.
It said that this could be possible largely through liberal auto FDI policy of India. This has resulted in creation of many joint ventures across various segments of automobile sector of India.
"Undoubtedly, these joint ventures have helped Indian companies in gaining competitive strength but we would very much like the current policy regime to continue for some more time. This is more so important in view of our increased emphasis on reviving the growth of manufacturing sector," it added.
On the IT sector, for whom EU is an attractive market, CII called for liberalised work visa across the region and data adequate status for India.
"India?s IT industry is of USD 100 million and provides services to all major corporate giants of world. Till date not a single case of data breach has been reported against Indian IT companies," it said.
At present EU does not recognise India as data secure country because lack of necessary legislations and regulatory authority, it added.
The Ambassador of EU to India Joao Cravinho said that on the issue of data secure status that India has been seeking, the EU would not be able to provide much under the BTIA as it was a legislative issue.
"However, he (Cravinho) was of the view that India and EU could work towards resolving this issue at the earliest outside of the BTIA," it said.
The Ambassador also clarified that EU was not seeking any TRIPS plus commitments from India in these negotiations and was willing to recognise the concerns of the generic drug manufacturers in the country.
Further, CII asked European car manufacturers (most of them are already in India) to invest more and take advantage of huge market size of India rather than demanding tariff reduction on automobiles.
"While EU is the largest source of FDI into India, the total investment is still not very significant. The cumulative FDI has crossed over 20 billion euro since 2000," it said.
The meeting was attended senior representatives of TATA, Wipro, Lupin and Araina enterprises and sectoral bodies like Automotive Component Manufacturers’ Association (ACMA) and Nasscom.
The meeting was also attended by Members of Indian Parliament from across all major political parties.
The total trade between India and the 27-nation bloc stood at USD 94.43 billion during April-February 2012-13. It aggregated to USD 109.86 billion in 2011-12.
EU is pressing for significant duty cuts in auto, wines and spirits and dairy products, besides hike in FDI cap in the insurance sector and a strong intellectual property regime. On the other hand, India wants liberalised visa norms for its professionals, data secure status and market access in services, pharmaceuticals, textiles and agriculture sector.