Free trade pact with EU likely by year-end

Published: 22nd July 2012 10:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd July 2012 10:20 AM   |  A+A-

Much talked about and much delayed broad-based Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), commonly referred to as Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and European Union (EU) might get concluded by year end.

Disclosing this to mediapersons on the sidelines of Open House Meet with Commerce Secretary, jointly organised here on Saturday by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), Pharmexcil and Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FAPCCI), Union commerce secretary SR Rao said both sides were likely to hold the final round of talks in September. “We are in the final leg of discussions and, hopefully, we should be able to conclude the deal by this year end,” he said.

Since 2007, negotiations between India and EU have been going on and recently a meeting was held at Brussels. There have been several roadblocks with both sides differing on the issues like the extent to which the markets are to be opened. Pharma companies and car majors also have concerns over the effect of the agreement on their business.

If the FTA is cleared, markets in the 27-nation strong European Union with over 450 million customers will be opened to Indian companies.  For years, EU has been India’s biggest trading partner and buyer of Indian goods and services. According to a FICCI report, with the formalisation of the FTA, trade is likely to exceed $207 billion by 2015. Duties will be drastically reduced on over 90 percent of the trade. The bilateral trade between India and the EU has increased from $83.46 billion in 2010 to $108 billion in 2011.  India already has comprehensive FTAs with countries like Japan, Malaysia and South Korea. The commerce secretary said negotiations are on with Australia and New Zealand for FTAs.

On Commerce Secretary-level talks with Pakistan, scheduled for this month, he said that on the request of Pakistan they have been postponed. He expressed the hope that the talks would be held in September.

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