The European Union and India launched negotiations on a bilateral free trade and investment agreement in June 2007. However, between the governments, a number of controversies have been plaguing the talks. Delhi wants Brussels to relax its stringent food safety criteria which penalise Indian farm and fishery exports and to make it easier for Indian professionals to work in the EU. Europe is primarily out to win major openings of India’s services sector and broad liberalisation of foreign investment, while India does not want to discuss allowing European firms to compete in India’s government procurement market.
Indian social movements, including fisherfolk and labour unions, people living with HIV/AIDS and other health activists have been mobilizing against the FTA. International actions and campaigns have particularly targeted the proposed intellectual property provisions of the agreement, and the impact of the FTA on access to medicines.
last update: May 2012
Sweden’s ambassador to India, expressed hope that the FTA between the EU and India would be negotiated and resolved soon. Swedish diplomats also stressed on innovation and cooperation between entities from their country and India.
After an eight year hiatus, India and the European Union (EU) are set to resume negotiations for a Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) by December, according to a Government official.
The Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) has been signed, trading appreciably more agricultural wares will not be possible without first tackling some of the remaining non-tariff barriers, especially those concerning sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules.
The European Union (EU) has finally given its assent to conclude a proposed investment facilitation deal with India, separate from the free trade agreement (FTA) also being negotiated between the partners.
Progress has been made on the resumption of the India-EU free trade agreement negotiations and the formal talks would start this month, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said.
India and the EU are likely to begin negotiations on the revamped proposal for a bilateral FTA in September but there continues to be disagreement on whether to carve out separate agreements on investment protection and geographical indications (GIs).
The parties have agreed to launch negotiations on key issues such as market access, investment protection and geographical indications.
The enthusiasm of both sides to negotiate lower import duties, market access and custom rules may get a rude reminder on the issue of investment protection, which remains unsolved.
Experts, too, suggest that both the sides need to work on less controversial issues first; the more difficult ones can be taken up later, as any deal there will take time to materialise.
"Pre-FTA discussions will start any time now. In the coming weeks, we will set the timeline and we will have discussions," says official.