BusinessLine | 6 February 2021
India, EU discuss re-initiating talks on bilateral free trade pact starting with interim agreement
India and the EU have discussed holding regular interactions for re-initiation of the bilateral trade and investment agreement (India-EU BTIA) with an interim agreement, to start with, according to an official statement.
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and the European Union Executive Vice-President & Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, in the first High-Level Dialogue (HLD), on Friday, also talked about the importance of global cooperation and solidarity in a post-Covid-19 era, a release issued by the Commerce & Industry Ministry on Saturday stated.
Virtual assessment, which seeks to eliminate human interface, is welcome, provided the principles of fairness and equity are not eroded
“In a significant step forward, regular interactions for re-initiation of bilateral trade and investment agreements, with an interim agreement, to start with, were also discussed,” the release stated.
Negotiations for India-EU BTIA, launched in 2007, were suspended in 2014 following differences over market access for key items such as automobiles, wines & spirits, dairy and also the movement of professionals.
Subsequent attempts to re-start the talks failed as the EU also wanted labour, environment and government procurement issues to be part of the pact. At the 15th India-EU Leader’s Summit in July 2020 the two sides agreed to explore the possibility of renewing the BTIA talks and also decided to establish the HLD.
In Friday’s meeting, the two agreed to work for further deepening of bilateral trade and investment relationship through a series of regular engagements, aiming at quick deliverable for the businesses in these tough times.
“The Ministers also agreed to meet within the next three months, with an objective for reaching consensus on a host of bilateral trade & investment cooperation issues viz. a bilateral Regulatory Dialogue, an India-EU Multilateral Dialogue to explore further possibilities of cooperation, etc,” the release said.