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EU urges India to offer more in bilateral trade talks

Reuters India

EU urges India to offer more in bilateral trade talks

20 May 2008

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission called on India on Tuesday to go further with its plans to open up its economy to European exports under a planned bilateral trade deal between the two trade powers.

India has filed a first market access offer with Brussels, an important step in the negotiations for an EU-India trade deal which were launched last year, Peter Power, a spokesman for EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, told reporters.

"I can confirm that it is certainly a useful and worthwhile opening bid for a negotiation that will have to go further," Power said.

"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," he said.

Mandelson wants to hammer out bilateral trade agreements with several of Asia’s biggest emerging markets.

At the same time the EU is deep in negotiations at the World Trade Organisation for a multilateral trade liberalisation deal, known as the Doha round, which has so far proven elusive.

The EU and India had about 46 billion euros ($72 billion) in two-way trade in 2006, smaller than might be expected for two of the world’s biggest economies. By comparison, EU trade with China totalled 254 billion euros in the same year, according to EU figures.

EU officials complain that the south Asian powerhouse remains protected by rules and regulations that restrict European business as well as by import tariffs.

India has said it wants to seal a new deal with the EU during 2008.