[Ip-health] India-EU FTA talks begin in Brussels next month

Leena Menghaney leena.menghaney at geneva.msf.org
Fri Aug 27 01:38:08 PDT 2010

India-EU FTA talks begin in Brussels next month
BS Reporter / New Delhi July 24, 2010, 1:31 IST

India and the 27-nation economic bloc of European Union (EU) would resume
negotiations next month for having a comprehensive free trade agreement
(FTA). Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and EU trade commissioner Karel De
Gucht are also expected to have an informal meeting during the same time.
This is part of an effort to boost bilateral trade.

So far, there have been nine rounds of negotiations between India and the EU
for a broad-based trade treaty on goods and services. Earlier this year,
during EU trade commissioner's visit, both ministers had vowed to close the
deal by October.
"We hope we will keep that date," said Daniele Smadja, head of the EU
delegation to India, while addressing the Indian industry at Ficci. She said
a series of meetings between the chief negotiators would take place in the
last week of August. 

Talks to initiate a broad-based FTA with EU began in June 2007. Since then,
several differences have mired the process of negotiations over EU's
insistence on including social issues such as human rights, labour policies
and climate change within the purview of FTA.

Besides discussions on trade and investment, the negotiations would also
take up issues concerning services, intellectual property rights,
competition policy, government procurement and geographical indications,
among others. The Indian industry has demanded for non-trade issues to be
kept outside the FTA.

A stock-taking meeting on the FTA was held in New Delhi in May between the
EU director-general for trade David O'Sullivan and commerce secretary Rahul

Stressing on the need for greater investment from India, the EU today said
that conclusion of the FTA between the EU and India would ensure more
engagement from both sides.

"Concluding the FTA negotiations will send a clear signal of engagement on
both sides. It would boost both trade and investment between EU and India.
We need to seize the opportunity, a one in a lifetime for both of us,"
Smadja said, adding the negotiations for having the trade deal are likely to
be wrapped up this year.

She said under the Lisbon Treaty ratified last year, the investment policy
in the EU would be developed and managed at the European level, giving
greater negotiating power to EU to deliver better investment protection for
European businesses.

The EU is India's largest trading partner with a trade volume of $80.6
billion, accounting for 21 per cent of the country's exports and 16 per cent
of imports.

Last year, during the Tenth India-EU Summit, both sides vowed to take
bilateral trade to $200 billion within the next three years. However, the
target seem far-fetched as several contentious issues continue to hamper
trading relations between the two, particularly seizure of Indian generic
drugs transiting through European ports meant for third-world countries.

Leena Menghaney 
Medecins Sans Frontieres
Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines (India)
C 236 Defence Colony, New Delhi, India
Tel: +91 11 46573731, +91 11 46573730

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