[Ip-health] India to EU: Can't sweeten trade pact

Shailly Gupta shailly.gupta at geneva.msf.org
Wed Jun 19 23:15:10 PDT 2013



India to EU: Can't sweeten trade pact



NEW DELHI: The government has run out of patience and will ask the
<http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/European-Union> European Union to
sign a free trade deal "within a narrow political window" as India is
unwilling to offer further tariff cuts for automobiles and has no room to
provide flexibilities on pharmaceuticals and government procurement. 

Top government sources said commerce & industry minister Anand Sharma has
been advised to deliver a stern message to Karel De Gucht, his European
counterpart as EU's list of demands seem unending even seven years after
negotiations began. Sharma could not be reached for comment as he was
travelling overseas, while commerce department officials refused to comment.

On India's demands, EU has refused to grant "data secure" tag to information
technology companies and instead give data adequacy status, something that
has also been given to the US. Data secure status will make it easier for
mid-rung Indian companies to bag contracts in most of Europe. The sources
said the issued raised on pharma related to pricing regulations, patents,
counterfeit medicines and access to cheap drugs, which do not relate to
FTAs, a position that has been clearly articulated to Brussels on several

Similarly, on government procurement, EU has demanded commitments based on
the proposed public procurement law, which has not even been placed before
Parliament. While India is willing to engage on the issue once the law is
enacted, the trading bloc sees it as a critical element of any deal. EU is
pushing for preference in government purchases for European companies, which
is unacceptable to India. New Delhi has said it will only ensure that orders
above a specified value are bid out and European bidders are not at a

The third issue that is holding up talks is EU's demand for a steeper tariff
cut on automobiles that goes beyond the government's offer to lower import
duty to 10% for a specified number of vehicles, and reduce it to 30% for
cars beyond the threshold. But EU wants a shift towards zero duty and
government says it is not possible. 

The sources said EU is raising issues at the last minute, while the
political window for a deal is narrowing given the impending general
elections next summer. They pointed out that Indian negotiators had
participated in the talks last month with the impressions that negotiations
have to be concluded soon. But EU doesn't seem to be heading for a political
closure before September - instead of the agreed deadline of July. As a
result, signing the deal cannot take place before March or April 2014, when
India will be in the midst of general elections.




Shailly Gupta

Policy Advocacy Officer

MSF Access Campaign

C 236, Defence Colony

New Delhi 110024



More information about the Ip-health mailing list