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’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.
The Kerala government is anxiously watching the move by the European Union to import 40 varieties of fish to India, as part of the proposed Indo-EU bilateral FTA, as it would adversely affect the state’s traditional fishing sector.
The negotiations for an EU-India FTA could prove even more difficult to bring to a successful conclusion than the Doha development negotiations.
The European Union’s trade policy has been condemned as "predatory" by a leading anti-poverty campaigner from India.
The European Union may back off from its insistence on including non-trade issues like human rights in the proposed free trade pact with India.
With Portugal taking presidency of the European Union on July 1, strong ties with India would help expedite the proposed free trade agreement between India and the EU.
As part of its policy to push for Free Trade Agreements with major trading partners, India has formally launched negotiations with the European Union for an ambitious and comprehensive FTA aimed at removing barriers across all sectors including investment and services.