Chief negotiators will be discussing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the European Union (EU) in Brussels on Friday and Saturday. India and the 27-member EU have been in talks since June, 2007 and have failed to finalise the pact.
India has already set in place FTAs with Japan, Malaysia and South Korea.
At a meeting with Hugo Swire, the UK Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth here on Thursday, Union Minister of Commerce, Industries and Textiles, Anand Sharma said, “Offer on the table are very strong and largely we have meeting of mind.”
Urging for an early conclusion of the talks, Sharma said that both the sides should “focus on the big picture and the benefits that will accrue and the positive message that will resonate in the global economy”.
The FTA, which is being called Broad based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), is looking to lower taxes on goods and ease services and investment provisions. A statement from the Commerce Ministry said, “Intensive engagements on part of the two sides are a reflection of their desire to finalising a balanced trade agreement at the earliest.”
Certain demands from both sides haven’t been resolved yet, thereby thwarting conclusion of the talks. India has been asking for single visa for professionals on short-term contractual trips to the EU while the latter has been demanding lowering of customs duty on cars, wines and spirits.