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India, EU resume free trade talks after 9-year lull

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Live Mint - 18 Juni 2022

India, EU resume free trade talks after 9-year lull

India and the European Union (EU) have resumed free talks for free trade agreement (FTA) after a nine years lull, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said on Saturday. The talks were re-launched at an event held at the European Union headquarters in Brussels on June 17. India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, and Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, formally re-launched the India-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations.

The first round of India-EU free trade agreement negotiations is scheduled to begin in New Delhi on June 27.

“Pleased that we re-started talks on Free Trade Agreement today (with India). Next round of negotiations will take place from June 27 till July 1 in New Delhi. We’re pursuing an ambitious timeline & we aim to conclude talks by end of 2023," EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said.

Besides, negotiations were also launched for a stand-alone Investment Protection Agreement (IPA) and a Geographical Indicators (GIs) Agreement, the Ministry of Commerce & Industry said in a statement.

This would be one of the most significant FTAs for India as the EU is its second-largest trading partner after the US. The India-EU merchandise trade has registered an all-time high value of $116.36 billion in 2021-22 with a year-on-year growth of 43.5%. India’s export to the EU jumped 57% in FY 2021-22 to $65 billion. India has a surplus trade with the EU.

During India-EU Leaders’ meeting held in Porto on 8th May 2021, an agreement was reached for resuming negotiations for a balanced, ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial FTA and starting fresh negotiations on the IPA and a separate agreement on GIs.

"Both partners are now resuming the FTA talks after a gap of about nine years since the earlier negotiations were left off in 2013 due to difference in the scope and expectations from the deal," India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s visit to New Delhi in April 2022, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Europe accelerated the FTA discussions and helped in defining a clear roadmap for the negotiations.

Both sides are aiming for the trade negotiations to be broad-based, balanced and comprehensive, based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity. There will also be discussions on resolving the Market Access Issues which are impeding the bilateral trade.

While the proposed IPA would provide a legal framework for cross-border investments to enhance the confidence of investors, the GI pact is expected to establish a transparent and predictable regulatory environment, to facilitate trade of GI products including handicrafts and agri-commodities.

Both parties are aiming to negotiate all the three agreements in parallel and conclude them simultaneously.

India earlier this year has concluded FTAs with Australia and the UAE in a record time. The FTA talks with Canada and the UK are also underway.

 source: Live Mint