India-EU FTA talks fail to make headway, bottlenecks still remain

During the 13th India-EU Summit, held after a gap of four years and attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and EU leaders, both the sides, however, welcomed the re-engagement of discussions for furthering the proposed pact.

PTI| Updated: Mar 31, 2016, 18:55 PM IST
India-EU FTA talks fail to make headway, bottlenecks still remain

Brussels: India and EU have failed to made the much-awaited announcement on resumption of long stalled negotiations for a free trade agreement as many bottlenecks still remain.

During the 13th India-EU Summit, held after a gap of four years and attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and EU leaders, both the sides, however, welcomed the re-engagement of discussions for furthering the proposed pact.

"The leaders welcomed that both sides have re-engaged in discussions with a view to considering how to further the EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) negotiations," a joint statement said today.

It was widely expected that India and the 28-nation European Union (EU) would announce resumption of the talks, which have been held up since May 2013 as both the sides are yet to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues, including data security status for the IT sector.

Senior officials from both the sides met twice in last two months to resolve the contentious issues so that some announcement could be made at the summit .

Meanwhile, Modi has invited Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, to visit India.

Launched in June 2007, the negotiations for the proposed BTIA have witnessed many hurdles with both sides having major differences on crucial issues like intellectual property rights, duty cut in automobile and spirits, and liberal visa regime.

The pact is aimed at reducing or significantly eliminating tariffs on goods, facilitate trade in services and boost investments between the two sides. The two-way commerce in goods between India and the EU stood at USD 98.5 billion in 2014-15.

Meanwhile the two leaders reaffirmed their shared commitment to oppose protectionism and to work in favour of a fair, transparent and rules-based trade and investment environment.

The EU welcomed India's readiness to establish a mechanism

to facilitate investments of all EU Member States in India.

"The leaders committed to further strengthen the current EU-India dialogues in a wide array of sectors including pharmaceuticals, trade and industry issues, agriculture, fisheries, food and feed safety," the statement said.

They underlined the value of ongoing engagement on multilateral, macroeconomic and financial matters, it said adding the EU and India looked forward to the start of implementation, of their Horizontal Aviation Agreement.

Both the sides also praised the ongoing cooperation on technical and operational issues, including exchange of best practices in the field of Intellectual Property Rights and public procurement.

"They also noted the importance of geographical indications as a way to support local quality products in global trade," it said.

They stressed that the trade in services is important not only for developed countries, but is rapidly emerging as a critical vehicle for developing countries for realizing development gains, including poverty reduction, and as the new frontier for enhancing their participation in international trade.