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Free trade pact with EU likely by year-end

The Hindu, India

Free trade pact with EU likely by year-end

By Our Bureau

21 July 2012

Hyderabad: The Ministry of Commerce is confident of concluding the Free Trade Agreement with the European Union by the end of the year. “They want us to have a re-look at one or two issues keeping in view the distress there. We are recalibrating our approach accordingly. We are discussing these issues within the Ministries. The final round of talks between the two sides may take place sometime in September,” said the Union Commerce Secretary, Mr S. R. Rao.

“We are in the final leg of negotiations. Hopefully, by the end of this year we should be able to conclude the deal. We have closed most of the issues,” Mr Rao told reporters on the sidelines of an Open House organised by the Federation of Indian Exporters’ Organisation.

Simultaneously, India has started talks with Australia and New Zealand for similar free trade agreements. “But more interesting, we are looking at a wider ASEAN engagement,” he said.

On a trade pact with Pakistan, the Commerce Secretary said talks were to be held in July. “But they wanted some more time. A meeting of Commerce Secretaries will be held in September. Hopefully, there will be good agreement between India and Pakistan,” he said.

Ratings misplaced

Earlier, addressing the exporters and other stakeholders, Mr Rao flayed the ratings outlook given by agencies Moody’s, Fitch and S&P that showed the country’s economy in poor light. “Their ratings are extremely misplaced. That is their perception. What is being projected in the news channels too is not the correct picture of Indian economy,” he said.

The Euro Zone is facing problems with Greece, Spain and Italy. Chinese economy too has contracted. This year, India is expected to grow at 6-7 per cent. This disproved the poor projections of the Indian economy, he said.