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
India and the European Union (EU) will have to give the December deadline for their free trade agreement a miss if differences persist over the negative list and non-tariff barriers to trade.
Brussels, March 3. The European Commission will not rush the talks with Delhi for a free-trade agreement even though India’s proposed FTA with Japan could happen sooner and affect the European Union member-countries’ presence in the Indian market.
The prospects of free trade agreement between the European Union and India being wrapped up by the 2008-end deadline look very bleak with sharp differences having arisen over various issues — intellectual property rights, competition, agriculture, public procurement, market access and transparency.
India Inc’s eager wait for a comprehensive trade and investment agreement with the European Union could get a little longer as differences have cropped up over the items which would be kept off the pact.
The EU’s stated aim is to use its planned free trade agreement to open up new Indian markets to European exports, especially in those areas which have traditionally been closed to foreign companies. India, which aims to win opportunities for its own exports, has asked that it be allowed some flexibility in opening up its domestic markets in order to protect the most vulnerable sectors of its economy. The EU has refused to grant India any such leeway.
The proposed India-EU free trade agreement may open doors for easy import of olive oil from Europe. Major olive oil exporting countries like Spain, Italy, and Greece are insisting upon India to reduce its duty, remove non-tariff barriers and other local taxes and levies and marketing restrictions like maximum retail price system that guarantee a 35% margin to the retailer.
Even as experts doubt the possibility of a “deep free trade agreement” between India and the European Union (EU), both sides are likely to exchange offers on goods and services by the end of the next month.
India will push for the removal of stringent quality norms for export to the European Union in the bilateral trade and investment agreement that is being worked out now. Restrictions on supplying ayurvedic medicines to the EU countries, extremely low maximum residue limit on products such as spices and registration problems faced by poultry and egg suppliers are high on India’s agenda.
Expressing doubt over WTO talks making headway in the near future, Austria on Tuesday asked India to speed up free trade agreement with the European Union to enlarge markets for European and Indian business.
Fishermen want 40 varieties in the negative list