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EU, India To Restart Free Trade Talks

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

18 December 2015

India and the European Union are to recommence talks towards a bilateral free trade agreement in January, according to senior EU officials.

Tomasz Kozlowski, the EU's new ambassador to India, told reporters that negotiators will meet next month for a "stock-taking" exercise following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with EU leaders at the G20 meeting in Turkey in November, when it was agreed that the talks should be restarted. He also revealed that both sides are attempting to fix a date for the next India-EU summit, which is likely to be held in the first half of 2016.

The negotiations have been on hold since 2013 when the EU restricted the use of around 700 drugs tested in India because they were deemed unsafe, prompting the Indian Government to break off the talks.

In February 2013, the European Commission had reported that "the contours of a deal" were emerging, but "both sides need to go the final mile to put the package together." By then fifteen rounds of negotiations had been held since the launch of negotiations in 2007.

According to the European Commission, before the talks broke down, "substantial progress" had been made towards an agreement. However, key areas that need to be further discussed include improved market access for some goods and services, government procurement and geographical indications, and sustainable development.

India currently enjoys trade preferences with the EU under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences. However, the Commission says that India's trade regime and regulatory environment remains "comparatively restrictive" for EU companies, and that "substantial tariff and non-tariff barriers" hinder trade.

Nevertheless, according to the Commission's figures, the value of EU-India trade grew from EUR28.6bn (USD31bn) in 2003 to EUR72.5bn in 2014. EU investment stock in India was EUR34.7bn in 2013, and trade in commercial services has quadrupled in the decade to 2014, increasing from EUR5.2bn to EUR23.7bn.

TAGS: environment | investment | European Commission | free trade agreement (FTA) | India | import duty | G20 | trade | Turkey | services | Europe

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