CHENNAI: India and the European Union began a round of trade negotiations in Delhi today, ending a lull of nearly a decade. They hope to strike a free trade agreement by the end of 2023.
India is the EU’s ninth-largest trading partner with 2.4 per cent of the EU’s overall trade.
India and the European Union's bilateral trade (excluding services trade) stood at $ 104.3 billion in the financial year 2018-19 (pre-Covid). The EU is India’s largest trading partner with 12.5 per cent of India’s overall trade between 2015-16, ahead of China (10.8 per cent) and the US (9.3 per cent).
"The EU will restart trade negotiations with India after a nearly 10-year pause as western countries try to dilute New Delhi’s historic ties with Russia," say sources.
Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission executive vice-president, recently said that talks between the EU and India would start for agreements on trade, investment protection and other specific regional products known as “geographic indications”.
“For the European Union, the partnership with India is one of the most important relationships for the upcoming decade,” Dombrovskis said, adding that the EU was targeting an ambitious timeline for the deal to be signed by the end of 2023.
During the Raisina Dialogues, held in Delhi earlier this year, EU President Ursula von der Leyen had announced a new trade and technology council and the renewal of trade talks.
Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal in a joint conference with Domrbrovskis had said that the talks heralded less competition and more collaboration, which would send a strong signal in support of global trade.
This announcement came after they attended the WTO ministerial meeting in Geneva earlier this month. One of the outcomes of the meeting was a partial waiver of Covid 19 vaccine patents and the continuation of a ban on taxing digital products such as software that India had pushed against.
Goyal called Dombrovskis his “partner in crime” during the WTO negotiations, which ran over by two days.