EU maintain first-round of negotiations on FTA in New Delhi after decade-long hiatus

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India

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Ending almost a decade-long lull, a complete dialogue on free trade between India and the European Union (EU) lastly recommenced in New Delhi. Taking to Twitter, EU envoy to India and Bhutan, Ugo Astuto confirmed that the senior officers kick-started the primary round of negotiations on proposed agreements within the nation’s capital after it was formally resumed on June 17. The participating diplomats aim to strike a deal by 2023 against the backdrop of India’s ‘historic’ ties with Russia.

For a recap, India started talks on free trade agreements (FTA) with the EU in 2007. However, in 2013 the discussions stalled after either side had been unable to achieve a mutually useful level on key issues, together with customs duties on cars and spirits and professional actions, the Associated Press reported. The formal announcement of the resumption of talks got here after Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal throughout his Brussels visit mentioned India was prepared to come to the desk with “an open heart and open mind.” He added, “Agreements do not have to always be about gain or demands, I think agreements also have to be which is good for both negotiating teams and for the people.”

In a bid to bolster ties with India, EU President Ursula von der Leyen throughout Raisina Dialogue in May introduced the arrangement of a Trade and Technology Council (TTC). The strategic coordination, which is the primary for India and second for the EU, is entrusted with the nexus of deepening cooperation on technology, safety, and trade between India and the EU. She additionally seemed ahead to the revival of the stalled negotiations on free trade.

India-EU trade ties

Notably, India is the EU’s ninth-largest buying and selling associate accounting for a minimum of 2.4% of the 27-nation bloc’s total trade. In the pre-Covid yr of 2018-2019, the bilateral trade between India and the EU, excluding services trade, clocked $104.3 billion. On the opposite hand, the EU is the second-biggest buying and selling associate of India with 12% of its total trade, which is 10% and 9.3% greater than China and the US, respectively. Post-Covid, that’s in 2021-202, India’s merchandise exports to EU nations marked $65 billion, whereas imports aggregated to $51.4 billion.

“Commencement of talks on India- EU FTA is happening at a very right time. India has already seen the benefits of recently-concluded FTAs ​​with the UAE and Australia. FTA with EU is long overdue,” Mumbai-based exporter and chairman of Technocraft Industries, Sharda Kumar Saraf mentioned, as quoted by the Associated Press.

PM Modi reviews India-EU ties in meeting with EU chief

The huge improvement comes as PM Narendra Modi is attending the G7 Summit in Germany. On the second day of the summit, PM Modi, accompanied by External Affairs Minister Dr. Subramaniam Jaishankar, met with EU chief von der Leyen on the sidelines of the conference to debate bolstering ties between the 27-nations bloc and New Delhi. Taking to Twitter, the EU President knowledgeable that each leader additionally deliberated on the cooperation and development of the TTC. Separately, they covered key issues like efforts to combat climate change and methods to spice up digital cooperation through the “outstanding” meeting, PM Modi wrote on Twitter.

(Image: @UgoAstuto/Twitter)

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