India-EU trade agreement unlikely this year

Press Trust Of India / New Delhi September 11, 2008

India-EU trade agreement unlikely this year

Negotiations for an ambitious free trade agreement between India and the European Union are on track but are unlikely to be completed by end of 2008, EC Ambassador to India said today.

"We need more time for the FTA as it is wide-ranging and ambitious," Ambassador and head of Delegation of the European Commission to India Daniele Smadja told reporters here.

Smadja said India was "vocal" in stating last year that negotiations would be wrapped up by end of 2008. "It was a good tactics as it gave a sense of urgency to the negotiators," she said.

Senior officials from India and the 27-member bloc "successfully" concluded the fifth round of negotiations in Brussels yesterday.

While the two sides exchanged their lists of tariff lines early this year, "the actual discussion and horse-trading started this time around" Smadja said. Officials would meet next in Delhi towards end of November.

She said while the trade negotiations were "totally on track", the EU would prefer not to set a timeline. It would rather "focus on the substance, taking one step at a time".

While negotiators have reached a broad consensus on trade in goods, further talks are required to find agreement in services, competition, intellectual property rights, public procurement, sustainable development, sanitary and phytosanitary measures and non-tariff barriers, she said.

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