India asks EU to declare it a data secure country

Seeking greater market access to the services sector, India Wednesday asked the European Union (EU) to declare it as a data secure country.

New Delhi: Seeking greater market access to the services sector, India Wednesday asked the European Union (EU) to declare it as a data secure country.

The issue came up for discussion during the meeting of Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud Algirdas Semeta here.

Sharma emphasised that in mode - 1 (cross border trade), India would need to be declared as data secure in order to provide access.

India is among the countries that are not considered data secure by the EU. This prevents flow of sensitive data, such as patient information for telemedicine, to India under data protection laws in the EU.

The issue is one of important area where both the sides have locked horns in the proposed Bilateral Investment and Protection Agreement (BITA).

"It is our clear analysis that our existing law does meet the required EU standards. We would urge that this issue is sorted out quickly and necessary comfort in declaring India data secure in overall sense needs to be given as almost all the major Fortune-500 companies have trusted India with their critical data," an official statement quoting Sharma said.

Globally, about 40 percent of IT spending comes from Europe, Middle East and Asia. Lifting of data flow restrictions can boost trade manifold for India's USD 100-billion IT-BPO industry, 30 percent of whose exports are to the European market.

The European Union is in the process of undertaking a study to assess whether India’s laws meet its directive, it said.

In the meeting, Sharma also highlighted the need for an early conclusion of ambitious and balanced (BITA).

Sharma said that the agreement needs to be balanced and should address areas of core interest to India such as services through Mode 1 and Mode 4 (movement of professionals), agricultural market access and sanitary and phyto-sanitary and technical barriers to trade for translating concessions into effective market access.

India and the EU are negotiating BITA since June 2007 and have missed several deadlines to seal the pact due to differences on several issues including services, visa and data security.

Sharma also sought investments from EU in sectors like retail, power exchanges, broadcasting, civil aviation, food processing, renewable energy, bio-technology and health care.

The cumulative FDI inflows from EU to India was around USD 44.31 billion during April 2000 to July 2012, while the Indian investments in the 27-nation bloc was about USD 20 billion during April 2004 to October 2009.

In 2010, the total trade between India and EU was USD 83.372 billion. It rose to USD 110.26 billion in 2011.

During January-September 2012, the two-way trade stood at USD 76.51 billion.