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India heading towards free trade agreement with EU

Kahbrein Info | 23 October 2007

India heading towards free trade agreement with EU

New Delhi, Oct 23 (IANS) — Although India and the European Union (EU) are facing major differences at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), they might "head" towards concluding a free trade agreement (FTA) by end of 2008, said Indian Industry and Commerce Minister Kamal Nath.

The EU and India are currently in discussion to conclude the FTA, the main objective of which is to do away with import duties and other tariffs on certain items of trade.

"This (FTA) will be one of the easier agreements to conclude ... We should be heading towards conclusion by the end of next year," the minister said, adding that bilateral agreements such as the FTA provide a conducive platform for multilateral discussions at the WTO table.

During his meeting with Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Vayrynen, Kamal Nath also raised the issue of some European NGOs’ recent campaigns against Indian industries, accusing them of violating human rights and labour laws.

"European NGOs have been extensively campaigning and writing articles, charging Indian industries of not following the rules. These charges are causing trade disruptions. Hence, we are taking up the issue with the EU as these are not healthy for our relations," Kamal Nath emphasised.

The FTA is expected to boost trade between India and the EU that currently stands at over $50 billion (Rs.1.98 trillion) a year.

 source: Kahbrein Info