Spain for early resumption of India-European Union free trade pact talks

The negotiations for the pact have been held up since May 2013 as both the sides are yet to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues.

Published: 04th March 2018 04:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th March 2018 04:28 PM   |  A+A-

Representational image of European Union flag | AP


VISAKHAPATNAM: Expressing hope for early resumption of negotiations for the long pending free trade agreement between India and the European Union (EU), Spain said its implementation would help promote two-way commerce and investments.

The negotiations for the pact have been held up since May 2013 as both the sides are yet to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues.

Jose Luis Kaiser Moreiras, Director General for International Trade and Investment, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry and Competitiveness, Spain, said that the country is pushing for resumption of negotiations.

"We hope that we can resume the talks. Spain is pushing inside the EU...In 2013, the negotiations got stuck on different level of ambition. So probably, we have to recalibrate our ambitions," he told PTI.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the CII Partnership Summit held here.

Moreiras expressed hope that both the sides can resume negotiations in the coming months.

Chief negotiators of India and EU are meeting next month in the national capital and "we are going to work with European Commission in order to come here with open mind to restart the negotiations," he said.

Certain important sectors such as automobile for EU was not included in the offer, so "we hope to see some progress in the defensive sectors in both India and the EU", he said.

The free trade agreements would reduce tariffs and that would improve trade and reduce prices in the domestic markets as well, he said.

"All consumers would benefit from it. We both have defensive sectors, we have to find solutions for the sectors and make reciprocal concessions," he added.

Defensive sectors refer to those segments which both the sides want to protect for their respective domestic industries. For example, India does not want to eliminate duties in sectors like automobile and agriculture. Similarly, EU is not agreeing to relax norms for movement of Indian professionals.

Launched in June 2007, the negotiations for the proposed BTIA (bilateral trade and investment agreement) have witnessed many hurdles with both sides having major differences on key issues like intellectual property rights, duty cut in automobile and spirits, and liberal visa regime.

The two sides have to iron out differences related to movement of professionals.

Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, the EU wants tax reduction in wines, spirits and dairy products, and a strong intellectual property regime.

On the other hand, India is asking for data secure nation status to be granted by the EU. The country is among the nations not considered data secure by the EU.

The matter is crucial as it will have a bearing on Indian IT companies wanting market access. Two-way trade between India and the EU dipped to USD 88.4 billion in 2015-16 from USD 98.5 billion in the previous fiscal.

Further, when asked about Spanish investments in India in the wake of relaxations in the foreign direct investments norms, he said: "there is lot of interest right now in investing in agri-food sector, agri-industries and food processing and probably we would see investments in the next few months."

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