India, EU to resume FTA talks after 8 years

The India-EU Leaders’ Meeting is being seen as an important opportunity to provide renewed momentum to the multi-faceted India-EU relationship, reports Naveen Kapoor

India and the European Union will resume negotiations on free trade agreement (FTA) after a gap of eight years. The talks were suspended in 2013 and restarting of negotiations will be a key deliverable of India-EU summit on May 8 in which for the first time Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be meeting leaders of 27 member states together.

PM Modi will join the meet virtually as a special invitee after the invitation of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. It had been decided to hold the summit in a virtual format in view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation. Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa will also attend the meeting which is expected to last for two hours. There will be a joint statement also. The India-EU Leaders’ Meeting is being seen as an important opportunity to provide renewed momentum to the multi-faceted India-EU relationship.

EU officials feel that they will be able iron out differences in trade negotiations and will be able to address the irritants, seeing the current positive momentum in ties.

EU official sources told ANI that talks were suspended in 2013 and since then, talks are going on and off but “it is only now that we are seeing positive momentum in our relations that we can say that we are actually resuming the talks formally”.

“This is part of package that will comprise of talks towards an agreement regarding geographical indications and also investment protection agreement which will Europeanize the arrangement that India has with Individual member states so far,” a source said.

“I can confirm that talks that we are resuming with India will be comprehensive. These will cover all areas of trade. We are not looking at an early harvest. We are looking at full and ambitious and very comprehensive set of negotiations,” another EU official added.

European Union is India’s largest trading partner and one of the largest sources of FDI in the country.

The sources said they will also look at existing trade irritants between EU and India.

“We believe that in the current atmosphere of the very positive momentum, we can make progress on these longstanding irritants we are all very much aware of. We are talking about resumption of negotiations. Of course the existing issues will be there but we are confident that new momentum between our two regions will pave the way for positive result of these negotiations. We, of course, very much welcome this,” the source said.

EU officials see India-EU summit as a meeting between two natural partners and between the world’s largest democracies.

“EU is India’s largest trading partner, largest foreign investor. If we look at the size of respective economies, I think there is huge potential to create more trade, growth and jobs which will be particularly important for European Union and India for recovery against the fallout of pandemic,” the EU source added.

The India-EU Leaders’ Meeting will be the first meeting in the EU+27 format and reflects the shared ambition of both sides for further strengthening the India-EU Strategic Partnership.  It is a significant political milestone and will further build on the momentum witnessed in the relationship since the 15th India-EU Summit in July 2020. (ANI)

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