India talks tough on FTA with EU; asks for lowering ambition
New Delhi: Ahead of crucial talks between chief negotiators of India and the EU from on Wednesday to iron out differences to conclude long-pending FTA talks, top officials today made it clear that the European bloc has to "lower down" its "high ambitions" if it really wants to seal the pact.
"India is taking a very tough stand. EU has to lower down from their high ambitions if they really want to seal the pact," sources said, ahead of the two-day deliberations on issues like duty cut in automobile sector.
They said that although the technical level talks between the two sides have started from yesterday, chief negotiators of both the sides would start discussions from Wednesday.
"This is the most crucial meeting for both the sides. India and the EU have to reach on the final position on all the vexed matters if they really want to conclude the talks. It will be really very very difficult to bridge the gaps after this attempt," they added.
India and the 27-nation bloc European Union (EU) are negotiating a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) since June 2007 but any breakthrough has not yet achieved due to strong differences on several of the issues.
Sources also clearly said that there are no chances of "partial agreement" with the EU as India has done with ASEAN.
According to them, even if the two sides were able to conclude the negotiations this year, it would take at least another two years for implementation of the BTIA.
"After conclusion of the pact, the text of the agreement will be vetted by each EU member country by their respective parliaments," the sources said.
Negotiations across a number of tracks including trade in goods and services; investment, sanitary and phytosanitary measures (dealing with basic rules for food safety and animal and plant health standards); technical barriers to trade, trade remedies, government procurement, customs cooperation and trade facilitation, dispute settlement, competition and intellectual property rights are underway.
Besides in automobiles, EU is pressing for duty cuts in wines and spirits and dairy products, 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 and pharmaceuticals sector.
The total trade between India and the EU stood at USD 94.43 billion during April-February 2012-13. It aggregated to USD 109.86 billion in 2011-12.