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India and EU to look at ways to restart free trade pact talks


NEW DELHI: India and the European Union plan to take stock of the proposed free trade agreement negotiations next month and explore ways to put in place a framework to resume the stalled talks. A delegation comprising senior EU officials is visiting Delhi in November to reassess the talks and decide further course of action, an official said.

“The EU delegation will see if the talks can continue at all and if yes, then from where to pick up,” said the official, who did not wish to be identified. India and the EU have been in talks on what is officially known as the Broadbased Investment and Trade Agreement since 2007.

The talks have been stalled due to a plethora of reasons, beginning with a prolonged recession in the EU, its focus on concluding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement with the US and then its move of banning 700 generic drugs tested in India. The Brexit dealt yet another blow to the talks.

“With the UK out of the EU, Germany is expected to take the lead in the negotiations,” a Delhi-based expert on trade matters said on condition of anonymity. “So, there will be less aggression on services as this was the UK’s long-standing demand. But automobiles may become an important agenda.”

The talks have also been stuck for four years on slashing of import duty on European cars and alcohol by India and recognising India as a ‘data-secure’ nation to enable free flow of data between India and the EU. While Germany is keen on automobiles, France wants lower import tariffs on wines.

India’s concerns over the lack of access for Indian professionals to the EU’s labour market also contributed to slowing of the pace of negotiations.


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