Trade pact with European Union to complete soon: Sharma

Trade pact with European Union to complete soon: Sharma Agra: Negotiations for the much-delayed free trade agreement between India and the European Union (EU) are expected to conclude soon, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said Sunday.

"We are negotiating a large number of free trade agreements with a number of countries. Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) with the EU is just on the verge of completion," Sharma said at the CII's Annual Partnership Summit here.

India is in talks with the EU, its biggest trading partner, since 2007 for liberalising commerce in goods, services and investment through the FTA for boosting trade and economic relations between the two regions.

The free trade agreement (FTA) would involve slashing of duties on over 90 percent of the commodities and opening up of the mutual markets for services and investment. The two sides had earlier vowed to conclude the negotiations in 2011.

Officials from both sides have remained engaged in resolving differences on key issues like opening up of markets in auto and auto components, wines and spirits, and intellectual property rights and services.

Sharma also said that global economic growth remained extremely fragile.

"The global economic growth remains extremely fragile and even now we are faced with heightened risks of a double dip recession. Latest projections indicate that this year, the growth will be weak at 3.5 percent, almost at the same level as last year (3.2 percent)," he said.

"What is even more worrisome is the slowdown in growth of developing economies, which grew at 5.1 percent last year ...

"The situation in Euro Zone, stemming out of the sovereign debt crisis, remains grim and even though there have been interventions by European Central Bank. The US is staring at a ‘fiscal cliff’ and in absence of bipartisan agreement serious worries remain," he added.

He also said that there is a continued volatility in capital flows, especially to emerging and developing economies.

PTI