Economic Times (India) | 18 September 2006
India-EU trade pact firmed up
NEW DELHI: The high-level trade group between India and the European Commission, which is examining the feasibility of a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement, will meet in Brussels on Monday to give final touches to its report.
The report focussing on enhanced economic cooperation will be submitted to the Indo-EU summit in Helsinki next month.Co-chaired by commerce secretary SN Menon and EC director general (trade) David O’ Sullivan, it is the second time the high-level trade group is meeting. The first meeting was in New Delhi in February this year.
The Brussels meeting is particularly significant because it is the last meeting the high-level trade group will have prior to the Indo-EU Summit beginning October 13. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will represent India at the summit and Finland’s PM, Matti Vanhanen, will play host.
According to sources, if things move smoothly, the two sides will sign the framework agreement to work towards a CECA at the meeting. A CECA is an agreement covering not just trade in goods, but also services and investment. While India is interested in having greater access for its professionals in the EU market, the EU wants India to lower duties on industrial goods.
The trade group was established as part of the Indo-EU strategic partnership joint action plan adopted at the sixth Indo-EU Summit in September last year. The group was asked to explore ways and means to deepen and widen bilateral trade and investment relationship.A day before the summit, CII and Ficci will hold a business summit at the venue. A roundtable of leading Indian and European companies CEOs is on the cards, too.