India-EU FTA negotiations may conclude by April
New Delhi: Negotiations for the India-EU Free Trade agreement may conclude by April this year, moving a step closer to sealing of the pact that is expected to boost trade and investment.
Visiting French Minister for External Trade Nicole Bricq and Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Thursday discussed issues like level of market access relating to the FTA. Bricq is accompanying French President Francois Hollande, who is in India for a two-day visit.
Fifteen rounds of negotiations have been completed for a broad-based Indian-EU Trade and Investment Agreement, an official statement said.
The chief negotiators are meeting in March and "hoped that this would be the last round of negotiations", it added.
"Both sides expect to be able to close negotiations by summer of April 2013 and hope for a balanced and ambitious agreement," it said adding "Loose ends, if any, will be dealt at the Ministerial level in April."
In the meeting, Sharma emphasised on the need for declaration of Data Adequacy Status from the 27-nation bloc to enable EU commitments in cross-border supply to be commercially meaningful to India.
India and the EU are negotiating the pact since June 2007 and have missed several deadlines to conclude the talks due to various differences.
Earlier in the day, France asked India to further open its market for foreign companies in sectors like services and automobile under the India-EU free trade agreement.
"We are negotiating an FTA but we are still facing problems...From our side we still have few questions on liberalisation of services sector on Indian part...Some difficulties in automobile sector," Bricq said while addressing business chambers.
In a separate meeting with the French industry leaders, Sharma said considerable scope is available for French investments in India especially in high-tech sectors, environmental technologies, energy including renewable, infrastructure and food processing.