India EU summit in first half of 2016: EU
India and the European Union will hold their long-pending summit in the first half of next year and resume negotiations on a free trade agreement, in efforts to bring back the relationship back on track. Newly-appointed ambassador of European Union Tomasz Kozlowski said the issue of European Union restricting sale of around 700 generic drugs clinically tested by India's GVK Biosciences does not stand anymore and both are now set to open a “new page” in their ties. FTA talks between the two sides will be held in January. “The summit meeting will be held in first half of 2016. We are now working on mutually convenient dates for the summit,” he told reporters while describing India an engine of growth of the global economy. The last India-EU Summit had taken place in 2012. The India-EU ties witnessed some strain after the 28-member bloc had not responded to New Delhi’s proposal for a brief visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Brussels, the EU headquarters during his trip to France, Germany and Canada in April. The summit is slated to be held in Brussels. Kozlowski said both sides will resume talks on the proposed free trade agreement next month. The talks, launched in June 2007, remain stuck as both sides are not satisfied with each other's offers. “We are now set open a new page in our ties,” he said adding the two sides were also finalising a pact to facilitate better movement of people from India to EU and vice versa. After a gap of about two years, Chief negotiators of India and the European Union were expected to resume negotiations on August 28 here but India had deferred the talks after EU imposed a ban on around 700 pharma products, which were clinically tested by GVK Biosciences. The envoy said EU never banned Indian drugs and the issue was of testing and certification. Now, he said both Indian exporters and European importers have managed certification for the drugs from other agencies and it was no more an issue. Sources said the “stock taking” FTA talks will be held here on January 18. Asked about Italian fishermen issue, Kozlowski said it remained a matter of concern for EU and hoped it will be resolved as soon as possible as per “international law”. In this context, he said an international court has said the legal proceedings should not be carried forward till it decides on the matter. Asked whether Indian court’s decision to restrict plying of diesel vehicles will impact European auto industry which has a huge market in India, he welcomed the environment-friendly move and said the companies must follow them. “It is in the spirit of what we agreed at Paris climate conclave. It’s a welcome move to protect the environment. They (the companies) must follow the standards set by Indian authorities,” said the envoy. An EU delegation in March had said in New Delhi that the reason for the bloc not responding to Indian proposal for Modi’s visit was that it was upset with the slow progress of the trial of two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012. The EU has been India's largest trading partner and two-way commerce stood at $101.5 billion in 2013-14. The FDI equity inflow from EU to India from April 2012 to May 2015 was $24,913 million. In 2014-15, the amount was $8,207 million while in 2013-14, it was $9,069 million. He indicated that meeting between Modi and European Union leadership on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Antalya in Turkey last month paved the way for the decision to hold summit talks in first half of next year and resumption of FTA negotiations. Welcoming Modi’s iniative to inject new momentum in India's economic growth, Kozlowski said both sides were not far from finalising the FTA which will significantly boost two-way trade and ensure better regulation. The envoy said foreign companies analyse the ground realities and there are areas for improving business environment which will help the Indian economy grow further. He also complimented the government for pushing hard the GST bill and said it was a crucial piece of legislation which will help foreign investors to a great extent. The envoy said NDA government’s efforts to attract FDI was showing results and EU wants to bolster trade ties besides support all the flagship initiatives and ambitious projects like smart citires and to rid the Ganga of pollution. On insurance sector, he said though India had opened up the sector, still there were certain issues and addressing them will help European investors. He said trade is a priority area for EU and it wants to partner with India to enhance regulatory framework.
December 16, 2015 | 06:20pm IST