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EU gives cautious welcome to India’s free trade proposals

AFP | 20 May 2008

EU gives cautious welcome to India’s free trade proposals

BRUSSELS — India has delivered "useful" proposals for a free trade agreement (FTA) with Europe but a lot of work remains to be done, a European Commission spokesman said Tuesday.

"I think the opening bid is not bad but a lot of work remains to be done to have an agreement which is worthy of support from both sides," said Peter Power, spokesman for EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, responding to Delhi’s offer.

India and the European have now delivered their initial proposals and both sides have already offered to cut tariffs on 90 percent of goods in terms of volume, another spokesman said.

However the devil remains in the detail.

"I think at this stage it would be unwise for me to put a timetable (on the talks) but certainly we would hope to see substantial movement in the next year to 18 months," said Power, adding that the time-frame "is not solely in our hands."

"This is certainly a useful and worthwhile opening bid for negotiations which will have to go further and deeper," he told journalists in Brussels.

Difficult subjects for the EU side include practices in the services and public procurement sectors.

Both sides have also said that a successful outcome to the troubled Doha round of World Trade Organisation trade talks remains the trade policy priority.

The 12-18 month period represents a slip on a target given by Indian Premier Manmohan Singh following an EU-India summit in Delhi last November when he said he hoped be in a position to conclude the agreement by the next bilateral summit at the end of this year.

 source: Khaleej Times