DNA India - 28 October 2019
New Delhi keen for early conclusion of India-European Union free trade agreement
As Prime Minister Modi met over 20 European Parliamentarians who will be going to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), New Delhi on Monday highlighted that it is keen on the India-Europe Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Modi, while speaking to the European MPs, called for "early conclusion of a fair and balanced BTIA" which he had termed a "priority for the government."
Formal talks were suspended on the proposed FTA in 2013, an FTA which will help both India and Europe in a major way. Since 2013, India and the European Union (EU) has met nine times informally to talk about the FTA with August 5, 2019, being the last time that both sides had met to discuss the issue.
Key issues for which why the talks failed were regarding customs duty on wine, auto manufacturing and labour issues. While India did not want an FTA without investments being part of it, EU wanted FTA on goods. On European cars, Brussels said it wants to sell full manufactured cars in India, to which New Delhi pointed out to its policy of local manufacturing.
High customs on wine in India was another thorny issue as well, as the EU raised the issue of labour and human rights. The EU also wanted to be part of the government procurement, which India is not keen on.
Next year, the 15th India-EU summit is expected to happen in Brussels, which can spur talks on the FTA. The last India-EU summit happened in 2017. The development on the EU-India FTA comes even amidst the fact that next week could see a mega RCEP FTA being inked in Bangkok on the sidelines of East Asia summit. India is keen to be part of the RCEP which will see China, ASEAN, and Australia attending.