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’EU, India to seek free trade pact’

Financial Express, India

’EU, India to seek free trade pact’


27 September 2006

STRASBOURG, FRANCE, SEPTEMBER 27: The European Union and India, one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, will signal next month their intention to negotiate a free trade agreement, the EU’s Executive Commission said on Wednesday.

An Oct 13 summit in Helsinki will "recommend that both the European Union and India move towards negotiations for such an agreement," EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said in a statement to the European Parliament.

While the talks would not start immediately, ’we will launch positive signals at the summit that we are heading in that direction’, said the statement read to lawmakers by Commissioner Joe Borg because Mandelson is in the United States.

The trade chief said earlier this month Brussels was hoping to negotiate free trade pacts with India, South Korea and countries in Southeast Asia.

He has insisted that regional and bilateral trade deals are no substitute for the World Trade Organisation’s multilateral round of global trade negotiations, which stalled in July due to stubborn differences among key players.

European trade experts have increasingly focused on Asia where the EU has no regional or bilateral agreements while the United States and Japan have recently made inroads.

Mandelson said that before any talks are launched with New Delhi, the EU wants to deepen discussions on sensitive areas with India such as removing barriers to trade in services, intellectual property protection and public procurement.