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’EU’s ban on Indian mangoes, vegetables could hit free trade talks’

The Hindu, India

’EU’s ban on Indian mangoes, vegetables could hit free trade talks’

Our Bureau

29 April 2014

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Mumbai/The European Union’s decision to ban the import of Alphonso mangoes and four vegetables from India could derail EU-India free trade negotiations and weaken New Delhi’s relations with Brussels, according to the Europe India Chamber of Commerce (EICC).

“Indian fruits and vegetables have been imported to Europe for several centuries now. There was no scientific justification for the ban on mangoes as there was no appropriate assessment of risk,” said Sunil Prasad, Secretary-General of the Brussels-based trade body. In a strongly worded press statement, Prasad has termed the move as “ill-conceived” and “misguided”.

The EU decided to ban these products starting May 1 after 207 imported consignments were found to be contaminated by fruit flies and other quarantine pests in 2013. The temporary ban covers mangoes, eggplant, the taro plant, bitter gourd and snake gourd, and prohibits imports to tackle the “significant shortcomings in the sanitary certification system of such products exported to the EU”. Prasad said India has better processes than several countries in Africa and Asia for the cultivation and packaging of food materials.

Further, he said the EU should have waited for a few weeks and discuss the matter with the new Government. The results of the ongoing general elections will be announced on May 16.

Since 2007, India and the EU have been negotiating a free trade pact, officially known as the Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA). Talks have been stuck as the two sides have been unable to reach a consensus on aspects related to insurance, Government procurement, wines and professional work visas.