PTI | May 26, 2015
Sitharaman-EU trade commissioner meeting next week on FTA
Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will meet her EU counterpart Cecila Malmstrom next week to take stock of the proposed FTA at political level, European Union envoy Joao Cravinho has said while identifying cars and services among others as issues that need attention.
The envoy also said taxation will not be a part of the negotiations for the free trade agreement (FTA), but expressed unhappiness at the goings-on, identifying taxation along with the bureaucracy as the biggest "obstacles" in doing business in the country.
Once the political leaders give a broad direction for negotiations on FTA, it will be a matter "of a few months" for the pact to be signed, he said.
"The way forward (on FTA) is the meeting between Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and EU trade commissioner Cecila Malmstrom.
Next week they will meet, take stock at the political level and they will identify what is the path forward," Cravinho told PTI late last evening. He did not specify where the meeting will be held.
Cravinho said this is the first time in over two years that senior officials from the two sides are coming together and expressed the hope that the meeting "will be a very strong stimulus to restarting the negotiations".
"Personally, I believe the FTA is a question of only a few months once the political instructions to finish the deal have come. We are very close to an agreement and that shouldn’t take too long," he said, when asked about his expectations on the timeline.
The pact has the potential to double the trade between the EU and India to 200 billion euros in two years, he said. When asked about the issues which need to be sorted out, he pointed out to cars, car parts, services, wines and spirits, and public procurement which need attention. "All of this needs addressing.
But at the same time, we are not very far from each other," Cravinho said. "If there is an uncertainty on taxation, companies will stay away. That’s what many European companies have told me.
They will like to invest, but they are worried about the taxation regime," he said.