The European Union has blamed India for the delay in conclusion of the free trade agreement being negotiated by the two for the last six years.

European Commission Vice-President Joaquin Almunia told reporters in New Delhi on Friday that the EU had tried its best to make the deal work and the delay was not its fault.

When asked whether it was India’s fault, Almunia said that it appeared so. Almunia met Commerce & Industry Minister Anand Sharma to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues.

Trade & investment pact

India and the EU had launched negotiations on a trade pact, formally called a broad-based trade & investment agreement, way back in 2007, but have failed to conclude it because of differences in a number of areas.

While the EU is not satisfied with India’s offers in the area of financial services, especially insurance, India is unhappy with the safeguards being placed by the 27-member group on the higher number of professional visas under the proposed pact.

FDI in insurance

The EU was hoping that once Indian Parliament passed the Bill that proposes to increase foreign direct investment cap in the insurance sector to 49 per cent, it could incorporate the decision in the pact.

But because Parliament has not yet been able to pass the insurance Bill, India has refused to give any commitments in the area. The EU also wants more market access for its alcohol and cars than what is being offered by India.

amiti.sen@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 22, 2013)
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