EU-India could explore 'less ambitious' FTA

India-EU would be a real new impulse to the negotiations on free trade agreement. 


With the India-EU FTA negotiations deadlocked, a top European Parliament member has said the two sides could explore the option of a "less ambitious" trade pact and indicated that there could be a separate negotiator for the crucial talks.

"May be some of the riders (in the proposed free trade agreement) are a bit too ambitious in certain areas," Geoffrey Van Orden, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and the Chair of the European Parliament's Delegation for relations with India, told a visiting group of Indian journalists here.

He said the two sides could look at "exploring something slightly less ambitious" but asserted that first it is important to ascertain that why is there this "great holdup" and why there is a "lack of enthusiasm" for the pact.

Asked if it was Brexit or the ongoing talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US holding the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), Van Orden said, "there is a certain validity" to the notion that TTIP was having an impact on the progress of the BTIA.

"I think because a lot of effort is going into TTIP and for a long time we have the same negotiator responsible for all of these agreements and we called upon the commission to appoint a separate negotiator for the BTIA. So I do think the capacity to deal with several major free trade agreements may be is lacking," the British Conservative Party politician and a former Army officer said.

Asked if there will now be a separate negotiator for the BTIA talks, Van Orden did not give a direct answer saying, "I understand that now the arrangements are slightly different."

Van Orden said that there was expectation that trade representatives from the two sides would be meeting on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in China in September.

"One of the things we hoped would come out of that summit (India-EU) would be a real new impulse to the negotiations on the free trade agreement. Formally it doesn't seem to have been that great impulse on either side," the MEP said.

"There is some very weak language in the communique and the expectation is that there would be further meetings on the margins of the G20 Summit that is to take place in China in early September," Van Orden said.

He said as a member of the European Parliament, he has put in a question to the European Commission to know when will the next round of FTA talks take place. "I have not yet had a response to my question," he said.

Asked if a watered down agreement would be good, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, vice chair of the Delegation for Relations with India, also answered in the affirmative.

Asked if it would be prudent to go for a less ambitious deal considering the progress on the FTA is sluggish, she said, "I would prefer that".

The Dollar Business Bureau - May 05, 2016 12:00 IST