Sunday, September 7, 2008

India-EU trade talks to resume ahead of Paris summit

After clinching a deal with ASEAN on a Free Trade Agreement, negotiations will resume this week for a market-opening pact between India and EU, ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and French President Nicolas Sarkozy holding their summit talks in Paris later this month. 

A team of negotiators from the Commerce Ministry, led by Additional Secretary Rahul Khullar would reach Brussels tomorrow for talks with the EU officials. 

"We will discuss legal texts on trade in goods, services, investment and Intellectual Property Rights," a senior official said here. The two sides have already exchanged their lists of tariff lines for study. 

The officials would also take stock of the progress made in negotiations since it began in June 2007 in Brussels. It would then be reported to the summit. The annual India-EU summit is scheduled to be held in Paris on September 29- 
30. The EU will be represented by France which holds the presidency of the 27-nation bloc. 

While the deadline for the ambitious FTA with EU has already surpassed and is unlikely to be met by the year-end, officials would strive to speed up the process.

"It looks as if it would take at least another year for the negotiations to be wrapped up," he said. The two sides have already held four rounds of talks. 

India has already concluded negotiations for a FTA with the 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The agreement will be signed in December this year. 

EU is India's largest economic partner with trade doubling from 40.81 bn dollars in 2003 to 78.48 bn dollars in 2007. The bloc exported goods worth 37.38 bn dollars to India in 2007 while imports were 41.95 bn dollars. Services exports to India in 2007 was 9.56 bn dollars while exports to EU were 7.85 bn dollars.