Monday, March 8, 2010
Following his previous visits to first Vietnam and then Singapore, the European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, concluded his visit to Asia by meeting India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma, to give fresh impetus to an EU-India free trade agreement (FTA).
In a statement issued after the meeting, it was said that both sides expressed their determination to conclude the FTA negotiations ahead of the EU-India summit in October, in a way that will address all issues of major concern to both parties. The Commissioner and the Minister added that they are prepared to hold fresh talks at their level to ensure that this deadline is respected.
India is an important commercial partner for the EU, with total bilateral trade in goods of EUR61bn (USD83bn) in 2008. Nevertheless, as India still maintains substantial tariff and non-tariff barriers that hold trade with the EU below its potential, the EU and India aim to increase their trade in both goods and services through the negotiations for a comprehensive FTA that were first launched in June 2007.
So far, several negotiating rounds have been held. The EU has made it clear in the past that the FTA will also need to address non-trade questions, including that of “sustainable development”.