India, EU to hold talks to seal trade pact

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

India, EU to hold talks to seal trade pact

Nov 28, 2010, 11:39 GMT

New Delhi — India and the European Union are making last ditch efforts to resolve differences and conclude negotiations on a free-trade agreement (FTA), in the run-up to a bilateral summit slated next month, a news report said Sunday.

India’s Commerce and Trade Minister Anand Sharma and EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht will meet in Brussels on Monday to take stock of the negotiations for a comprehensive trade agreement, the PTI news agency reported.

India and its largest trading partner, the 27-nation EU, have been negotiating a comprehensive trade pact, the Bilateral Investment and Trade Agreement (BITA), since June 2007 to increase bilateral commerce, currently estimated at 82 billion dollars.

BITA will also provide liberalising trade in services, an area of strength for India - on which it faces hurdles like visa problems in several EU members like Germany and Britain, the report said.

The India-EU summit is expected to be held on December 8 in Brussels and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will lead the Indian delegation.

Officials said several issues need to be resolved for the pact, but both sides are hoping to conclude the FTA talks by the year-end.

The negotiations for BITA had hit roadblocks several times as some EU members were pressing for inclusion of non-trade issues like child labour and environment in the trade pact, which are opposed by India.

’There is no question of discussing such issues. There are other forums to discuss such matters. India’s position is clear. I think that is understood by the interlocutors,’ Sharma told PTI before leaving for Brussels.

According to a report prepared by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the pact would improve market access for goods and services.

It said India-EU trade was likely to more than double, to exceed 207 billion dollars by 2015.

India, Asia’s third-largest economy, has already implemented free trade pacts with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Korea. It is also finalizing a similar pact with Japan and Malaysia.

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source: dpa