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
About 40 varieties of fish, cashew kernels and salted and roasted cashew are among the products which should be included in the negative list of items for India-European Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a meeting of stakeholders here has suggested.
India needs to improve its track record for enforcing intellectual property rights without which global small and medium enterprises will not invest in the country, an EU official said on Friday.
This paper attempts to place the EU-India FTA negotiations in their
historical and topical context, and questions the coherence between the
development aid agenda on the one hand, and the trade and investment agenda
on the other.
"This (FTA) will be one of the easier agreements to conclude," India’s commerce minister Kamal Nath said. But European NGOs’ recent campaigns against Indian industries, accusing them of violating human rights and labour laws, are not helping.
The free trade agreement (FTA) component of the India-European Union comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) is likely to exclude nearly 150 farm products to shield Indian farmers from increased competition posed by subsidised goods.
EU sees a new readiness on the part of the Indian side which, for the first time, has put poverty reduction, labour standards and environmental protection under the bilateral trade framework.
India’s commerce department is on a drive to identify 520 items that would be shielded from tariff cuts planned under the proposed India-EU bilateral trade and investment agreement. Tariffs on all other items will have to be reduced to zero in 10 years from the date of implementation of the agreement.
Oil sardine and mackerel are likely to escape the list of duty-free import from Europe in the Indo-European Union trade and investment agreement, set to be signed late next year. The exemption is a major victory for fish workers.
Ahead of the India-European Union (EU) summit on Nov 30, Daniele Smadja, the new envoy of the European Commission, Friday called for pushing negotiations on a broad-based trade and investment agreement between the two sides.
“For India, services is the most important aspect of the India-EU bilateral pact,” a commerce department official said.