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Ferrero-Waldner Visits India To Discuss Trade

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

19 February 2007

European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner began her first bilateral visit to India on Friday.

The Commissioner will spend from 16 to 20 February travelling to Delhi, Rajasthan and Mumbai, and will meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Trade Minister Kamal Nath to discuss the implementation of the Joint Action Plan, common challenges and areas of ever closer cooperation.

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner explained that:

“The EU-India relationship is a strong, growing and dynamic relationship based on common values and strong mutual interests. While the EU is India’s first trading partner, and its main source of Foreign Direct Investment, the EU is also keen to work with India on the crucial issues of our day, from energy security and climate change to multilateral trade liberalisation, non-proliferation, UN reform, the promotion of human rights and democracy, the fight against terrorism, peace and regional integration in South Asia."

"India is a natural partner for the EU on many of these issues, not least because of our shared commitment to seeking multilateral solutions in a rules based international order."

She added:

"India is celebrating 60 years of independence just as we Europeans are marking 50 years of integration between our nation states. The EU believes regional co-operation can help bring stability and prosperity to many parts of the world – and we applaud the very important role that India plays in fostering greater regional co-operation and trade liberalization in South Asia. I am sure that the SAARC summit, which India will host in April, will be a milestone in further co-operation, and we look forward to attending as observers."

In addition to highlighting the EU´s policy on Energy and Climate Change, the External Relations Commissioner will also discuss the negotiation of a broad-based trade and investment agreement between the EU and India and press for progress on the ongoing negotiations of bilateral agreements on maritime transport and civil aviation.

As India prepares to host the next Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC), the Commissioner will emphasise the support of the EU for all current efforts to promote regional co-operation and trade liberalisation in South Asia.

The EU was granted observer status in SAARC last year and will participate for the first time as an observer at the next summit.

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