[Ip-health] Bridges Weekly: EU, India Hoping to Clinch Trade Deal by April, Officials Say
thiru at keionline.org
Wed Feb 20 23:58:30 PST 2013
Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest • Volume 17 • Number 6 • 20th February 2013
EU, India Hoping to Clinch Trade Deal by April, Officials Say
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The European Union and India are hoping to complete their nearly six-year trade talks by April of this year, French and Indian trade officials said last week. The proposed deal, if completed, would cover a market encompassing 1.7 billion people.
Chief negotiators are meeting in March in what will ideally be the last round of negotiations, Indian Trade Minister Anand Sharma and French Minister for External Trade Nicole Bricq said last Thursday in a joint release. Any remaining issues, they explained, would then be resolved at the ministerial level in April.
Unofficially, EU representatives have suggested that a deal needs to be reached by the middle of this year, given that the bloc will soon have to devote its attention toward negotiating other pacts - such as the recently announced talks with the US and Japan - and in light of the upcoming general election in India.
The bilateral talks have hit repeated snags over their run, with progress slowing over topics such as services, procurement, investment, banking, automobiles, and agricultural market access. Officials had previously said that they wanted to conclude the talks by autumn 2012, after being unable to clinch a deal ahead of a February 2012 bilateral summit.
“The level of ambition in the negotiation with India goes well beyond what India has agreed with other partners so far, covering issues it has previously dismissed in the WTO context (such as investment and competition) or largely excluded from negotiations with other bilateral partners (public procurement),” the Commission said earlier this month, in explaining the difficulties both sides are facing in concluding a deal.
Since their launch in 2007, the two sides have undergone 15 rounds of negotiations. The proposed trade deal, if completed, would cover more than 95 percent of tariff lines.
The European Commission has said that a trade pact with India is “essential” for both trading partners, and will hopefully serve as a stepping stone for Brussels in its efforts to develop deeper trade ties with other large emerging economies.
In light of the EU’s fragile recovery, furthering the bloc’s trade ties through bilateral and regional deals - both with emerging economies, such as India and the ASEAN countries, and with major developed country partners, such as the US and Japan - has been touted as a way to boost growth and jobs in the 27-country bloc.
EU estimates have found that an “ambitious” trade agenda could lead to the creation of two million jobs, and a two percent increase in growth.
Trade with India amounts to 2.6 percent of the EU’s exports, while the EU remains India’s single biggest trading partner; the value of EU-India trade grew from €28.6 billion in 2003 to €79.9 billion in 2011, according to the European Commission.
ICTSD reporting; “India-EU FTA negotiations may conclude by April,” ZEE NEWS, 14 February 2013; “India, France see EU trade deal concluded by April,” REUTERS, 14 February 2013; “India urges new push for EU trade talks,” FINANCIAL TIMES, 11 February 2013.
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