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India to talk retail FDI at EU free-trade meet

DNA | Tuesday, Jun 26, 2012

India to talk retail FDI at EU free-trade meet

By Neeraj Thakur | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

India is taking an aggressive stance in the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the European Union (EU).

At the meeting with the European Trade Commission on June 26 in Brussels, the Indian delegation, headed by commerce minister Anand Sharma, will focus on the government’s achievements including opening up single-brand retail to foreign direct investment (FDI).

The agenda note prepared by the delegation says the FDI policy for multi-brand retail was likely to be introduced shortly and reforms in insurance and civil aviation sectors were being considered.

“We have taken a big step forward by opening up single-brand retail to FDI. We are hopeful that multi-brand retail will also be opened shortly. This gives us a strong footing to negotiate on issues related to Mode-4 quota,” said a commerce ministry official.

Mode-4 quota relates to temporary stay in the EU of highly skilled service providers from India.

The Indian side also plans to convey to the EU trade commission that it may not be possible to introduce reforms in sectors like banking, postal & courier and legal services within the timeframe for concluding this agreement.

On non-agricultural market access, the government plans to make it clear that it would be difficult to concede to the EU demands.

“EU’s request for concessions in lines pertaining to machinery and auto components has been examined in detail. No concession in most of the lines has ever been given by India in its other FTAs,” says the agenda paper.

Trade between India and EU stood at $91.3 billion in 2010-11.

On intellectual property rights, India plans to stick to its commitment to the existing laws under the trade related aspects of intellectual property rights, or TRIPS, agreement. The EU had expressed concerns over India’s decision to provide compulsory licence for making a generic version of the cancer drug produced by German firm Bayer to Natco Pharma.

“India’s mandate is to clearly limit any agreement to our existing laws and to obligations under TRIPS. India cannot go beyond the same. This is an absolute imperative and there is no way that we can accede to any requests outside this mandate,” says a note prepared by the Commerce Ministry.

Under the FTA, India and EU have an ambitious target of slashing duties on over 90% of the trade under the pact.

 source: DNA India