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EU wants India to speed up FTA

The Hindu | 11 December 2007

EU wants India to speed up FTA

New Delhi (PTI): Expressing doubt over WTO talks making headway in the near future, Austria on Tuesday asked India to speed up free trade agreement with the European Union to enlarge markets for European and Indian business.

Austrian Minister for Commerce and Labour Martin Bartenstein held talks with Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath here on a host of bilateral and multilateral issues, including progress on the India-EU Free Trade Agreement and Doha Round of negotiations for a global trade deal.

"Pascal Lamy (WTO Director General) thinks modalities for the Doha Round could be finished by February/March next...We had similar target for the Hong Kong Ministerial meeting (in December 2005)," Bartenstein said at a joint media briefing with Nath.

Both Nath and Bartenstein emphasised the timeline of 2008 end for completion of negotiations on India-EU FTA, officially known as Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement.

The Austrian Minister said the EU was working on a ’Bluecard’ scheme on the lines of the US ’Greencard’ for expatriates. "Under the Bluecard scheme, there would be a uniform regime for all 27 EU members," he said adding that Austria and other EU members were keen on leveraging Indian human resource.

While Nath discussed WTO issues with the visiting Austrian minister, he lambasted US Trade Representative Susan Schwab on her recent remarks about India and Brazil. Schwab had described the two developing countries as "teenage drivers" unwilling to take up responsibility.

"I do not know about drivers and vehicles. You may be driving big horsepower car ...but you must also know the destination," he said.

 source: The Hindu