[Ip-health] Economic Times: European Union seeks Narendra Modi's intervention to resume FTA talks
shailly.gupta at geneva.msf.org
Sun Mar 8 00:29:01 PST 2015
BRUSSELS: Keen to expand economic ties with India, the
<http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/topic/European-Union> European Union
has sought a 'political push' by Prime Minister
<http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/topic/Narendra-Modi> Narendra Modi to
restart the stalled talks for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and expressed
readiness to adopt flexibility to iron out differences on crucial issues.
Noting that finalising the long-pending pact was a major priority area for
it, the 28-member powerful bloc said sticky issues relating to intellectual
property rights (IPR), data security for IT services and tariff in the
automobile sector can be resolved through talks.
Top European Union officials handling trade issues with India said they are
reaching out to Commerce Minister
Sitharaman to resume the negotiations for the FTA at the earliest.
The last round of talks on the FTA was held in May, 2013. Head of India
Division at the European External Action Service
Castillo Fernandez said the EU was ready to show flexibility on all major
issues that have stalled the talks as the FTA will be a "win-win deal" for
both the sides.
<http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/topic/Policy-Officer> Policy Officer
for India at European Commission's Directorate General of Trade
<http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/topic/Roberto-Cecutti> Roberto Cecutti
said: "We are ready to review all outstanding issues, including in the
automobile sector. We are intensifying our efforts to restart the talks."
Expressing disappointment over delay in finalising the pact, Chairman of the
European Parliament Delegation for relations with India
<http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/topic/Geoffrey-Van-Orden> Geoffrey Van
Orden said Prime Minister Modi should make a political push for making fresh
initiatives to put the FTA talks on fast track.
"I think Modi is a man who wants to get things done. I think it is the word
from the top that works in India. I think the word needs to come from the
top," Orden said when asked about the issue.
The EU has been India's largest trading partner and Orden said both sides
should try to finalise a "realistic and meaningful" trade pact by the next
year which will be a real step forward in significantly expanding economic
The two-way commerce stood at USD 101.5 billion in 2013-14. It was USD 57.25
billion during April-October this fiscal.
Orden said tariff on cars coming from India to Europe was less than 10 per
cent while the tariff imposed by India on cars from Europe is around 130 per
cent and sought a pragmatic resolution of the issue among other things.
A number of EU officials expressed confidence of holding the EU-India summit
later this year which they feel will give a new push to relationship between
the two sides.
A top diplomat said besides FTA, the EU was looking at insurance, banking
and retail as major areas for economic engagement with India.
Officials involved in trade talks said labour laws and issues relating to
sustainable development were important to them.
"The FTA is not all about tariff reduction but its much more about market
access, investment protection and labour laws and issues relating to climate
change as well," said a senior official.
On medicine, which is another sticky issue, the official said nothing in the
FTA will touch upon the IPR legislation and patent legislation concerning
access to medicines, including generic medicines.
In May, 2013, both sides failed to bridge substantial gaps on crucial
issues, including data security status for IT sector.
Launched in June 2007, negotiations for the proposed Broad-based Trade and
Investment Agreement (BTIA) between India and the European bloc have
witnessed many hurdles as both the sides have major differences on crucial
The two sides are yet to iron out issues related to tariffs and movement of
professionals but the EU has shown an inclination to restart talks.
Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, the EU wants tax
reduction in wines, spirits and dairy products, and a strong intellectual
On the other hand, India is asking for granting 'data secure nation' status
to it by the EU. The country is among nations not considered data secure by
The matter is crucial as it will have a bearing on Indian IT companies
wanting market access.
The EU law mandates that European countries doing outsourcing business with
countries that are not certified as data secure have to follow stringent
contractual obligations which increases operating costs and affects
India also wants liberalised visa norms for its professionals and market
access in services and pharmaceuticals sector.
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