Social, environmental issues inclusion may delay India-EU FTA

New Delhi: The European Union's rigid stand on inclusion of social and environmental issues in a free trade agreement with India may delay finalisation of the pact.

"I think it will be a big mistake to ignore social and environmental implications of a trade agreement. This is an issue which is going to impact India and EU (free trade pact)," EU's chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero said at a workshop jointly organised by the European Economic and Social Commitee, a civil society organisation, and Ficci here.

India has been opposing inclusion of social and environmental issues in any multilateral and bilateral trade talks — be it FTAs or under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation as there are other international fora to deal with non-trade matters.

However, the European Parliament was pressing the EU to include the issues like child and bonded labour and environment and in FTA negotiations with India.

"We have to address these issues and I hope that we can address this during negotiations," said Daniele Smadja, Ambassador, Head of Delegation, EU.

Talks on the trade pact was started in 2007. Seven rounds of negotiations have been held but the two sides have not been able to arrive at a consensus on the level of trade to be covered under the FTA that will eventually eliminate duties on goods traded.

Bureau Report