India willing to pursue FTA with European Union: Minister

Under the proposed Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), both sides are aiming at reducing duties on the maximum number of tradable items, besides liberalizing norms for services and investments.

Sai Nikesh | The Dollar Business European Union-The Dollar Business The Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry, on Monday, expressed the Government of India’s (GoI) willingness to go ahead for Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU). To this effect, the Union Commerce Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman said that New Delhi was ready for talks with the EU over the trade facilitation agreement, which has been pending since a long time. Referring to EU countries as India’s long-standing traditional trade partners, the Minister further informed that the EU ambassador and ambassadors of the individual EU countries were also given assurance in this regard. The Ambassador of the EU community was also said to have raised concerns about this long-pending issue and has also sought the Commerce Minister for the early resolvation of the FTA issue. Responding to the envoy’s statement that ‘the EU is looking forward for FTA with India and talks would be encouraging’, the Minister said, “We certainly want to engage with the EU on the issue.” According to the European Commission’s Trade and Investment Barriers Report 2015, EU companies are still facing important market access barriers in India in the IT and electronics goods sectors. The report further says, “No further substantial progress on India’s side was witnessed with regard to the implementation of the Preferential Market Access policy, after India suspended the policy in 2013 and explicitly ruled out its application to non-public procurement.” By doing so, India maintains that it is not bound by any WTO commitments, added the report. The FTA agreement between the EU and India, for which the initial talks were laid in 2007, was lastly discussed in 2013, where both the sides failed to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues including data security status for the IT sector in May 2013. However, this move by the Indian government will give impetus to the agreement and gains importance in view of the EU envoy J Cravinho’s statement in Feburary 2015, that the issues pertaining to bilateral investment and FTA between the EU and India would be resolved and finalized in 2015. The EU envoy had expressed hope that the India-EU FTA would come into implementation under the Narendra Modi government. The envoy had also informed that a team of European Parliamentarians, EU Commissioners and Ministers of various sectors of Europe will be visiting India in March to discuss various issues on science and technology, energy and climate change.    

This article was published on March 24, 2015.

The Dollar Business Bureau - Mar 24, 2015 12:00 IST