New Delhi: The long pending negotiations for the India-European Union free trade agreement may finally move ahead with the EU's chief negotiator scheduled to visit New Delhi this week, amid positive signals emanating from the 27-nation bloc.
"We have got positive indications and signals from the EU. Chief negotiators of both the sides are scheduled to meet this week here," a senior official told PTI.
India and the 27-nation bloc are negotiating the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) since June 2007 and have missed several deadlines to conclude the talks due to differences among the two sides on the level of opening up of the markets.
The official said India has clarified its stand on all the issues pertaining to the free trade pact.
"Now the ball is totally in the court of European Union. We are expecting some positive news may be by the forthcoming India-EU Summit, which is likely later this year," the official added.
However, the official cautioned that the negotiations will get further delayed if the EU would not be able to come on board by June.
"After June, election mode will settle in the country and during that time it will be difficult for India to focus on the talks," the official added.
The free trade agreement, officially dubbed as BTIA, seeks to sharply reduce tariffs on goods and liberalise services and investments provisions.
According to trade experts, the agreement would help Indian companies to expand into the EU, the country's biggest trading partner. Europe wants access to a big market of 1.2 billion potential customers in India.
The two-way trade stood at USD 91.3 billion in 2010-11. A Ficci report said trade is likely to more than double to over USD 207 billion by 2015 if the trade pact is formalised.
India has already implemented comprehensive FTAs with countries such as Japan, Malaysia and South Korea.
First Published: Sunday, January 13, 2013, 11:42