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
The European Union on Friday said it would prefer to resolve two commercial disputes with India without engaging in a legal battle at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The first dispute involves seizure of Indian generic drugs in transit at some EU-based ports, including Amsterdam, which were bound for certain third world countries, on the grounds of patents infringement.
Even the most optimistic amongst those involved in the process admit the talks to be in a deadlock that neither side has the political will to break.
The European Union’s demands on India to take on higher intellectual property (IP) standards, if adopted, could spell disaster for the supply of low-cost generic medicines, undermine India’s development and set a significant precedent for the future of IPR protection globally, cautioned Dr Carlos M. Correa, an expert on IP and the WTO TRIPS Agreement.
The most affected from the EU-India FTA will be India’s dairy farming sector, where regularly five million women and 15 million men work to meet their daily needs.
What is slowly emerging is the beginning of a composite oppositition to FTAs in India.
A free-trade pact with EU will weaken India’s stance at WTO
The paper broadly examines the core trade interests of the EU and India, the content of the negotiations and outlines some key concerns of a potential deal for India in the areas of goods, services and investments, intellectual property rights and government procurement.
Conversations on the EU-India FTA
India on Wednesday said it is committed to expeditiously conclude a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) and is expecting some headway when the next round of talks take place here in July.
India will stick to its demand for duty-free access to 95 per cent of the outward trade from India to the European Union (EU), against 90 per cent of that from the EU to India, for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a top government official from the commerce ministry said.