New Delhi: India and France Monday expressed "strong commitment" for early resumption of stalled negotiations for the proposed free trade agreement between India and the European Union.
"France and India are committed to bring about a resumption of the negotiations as soon as possible," said the joint statement issued on the occasion of the state visit of French President Francois Hollande here.
The negotiations for the free trade pact, officially dubbed as Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), have been held up since May 2013 as both the sides failed to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues, including data security status for the IT sector.
Reaffirming their commitment to facilitating a conducive environment for enhancing bilateral trade and investment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Hollande underlined the importance of the dialogue on trade issues through the India-France Joint Commission, as well as their "strong commitment" to the EU-India BTIA.
On January 18 here, chief negotiators of India and EU today took stock of outstanding issues, including duty cut on automobiles and movement of professionals, that have held up talks on the proposed free trade agreement (FTA).
The purpose of the meeting was to assess where both sides stand and how India and the EU should go forward with the proposed pact.
Between 2007 and 2013, about 16 rounds of negotiations have happened. But after that, no negotiations have been held.
India wants data security status, relaxations in movement of professionals, real market access in terms of sanitary and phyto-sanitary (norms related with plants and animals); and technical barriers to trade measures adopted in EU.
The negotiations were expected in August last year, but they were deferred by India, expressing disappointment and concern over the EU banning sale of around 700 pharma products, clinically tested by GVK Biosciences.
The negotiations for the proposed Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement have witnessed many hurdles with both sides having major differences on crucial issues.
Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, EU wants tax reduction in wines and spirits and dairy products and a strong intellectual property regime.
The free trade pact is aimed at reducing or significantly eliminating tariffs on goods, facilitating trade in services and boosting investments between the two sides.
The two-way commerce in goods between India and the EU was USD 98.5 billion in 2014-15.
The bilateral trade between India and France stood at USD 9.37 billion in 2014-15. India has received USD 4.76 billion FDI between April 2000 and September 2015.