Agence France Presse | 5 March 2010
EU expects free trade deal with India by October
NEW DELHI — The European Union expects to clinch a free trade pact with India by October, the EU’s trade chief said Thursday, as the 27-member trading bloc pushes to secure new markets across Asia.
"The deal should be done by the next summit between the EU and India in October," EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht said in New Delhi following a day of talks with Indian trade minister Anand Sharma.
De Gucht and Sharma "shared the view" that a deal could be done and "we will speed up negotiations," the EU trade official told reporters.
The EU, which sees a free-trade deal with New Delhi as helping boost its presence in fast-growing Asia, and India, the world’s second most populous nation, launched talks on a free trade agreement in 2007.
The two sides have held eight rounds of negotiations but progress has been laborious.
The EU, the South Asian nation’s biggest trading partner, has been seeking to include global warming, intellectual property rights and child labour policies in the negotiations.
But India has opposed the incorporation of what it calls "extraneous" non-trade issues.
On Thursday, de Gucht said he believed agreement could be reached on such non-tariff issues as labour and climate change, as well as on market access.
"If it proves necessary, we will have a meeting at the ministerial level to hammer out remaining problems," de Gucht told reporters.