Czech Republic pushes for early resumption of India-EU FTA talks

Amiti Sen | | Updated on: Mar 06, 2018
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Trade Minister says huge scope for bilateral cooperation in railways, nuclear power

The Czech Republic is pushing for an early resumption of the free trade agreement between India and the EU which it feels would result in a “win-win’’ situation for both.

The country’s Trade and Industry Minister Tomas Huner, who is in India with a business delegation to participate in an engineering goods expo in Chennai, discussed ways to re-start the stalled FTA talks with his Indian counterpart Suresh Prabhu.

“I will discuss the resumption of the FTA talks between India and the EU with Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu as we totally support the proposed pact. We believe that cooperating more with India in trade and investments will create a win-win situation,” Huner told BusinessLine before his meeting with Prabhu.

Talks on India-EU FTA, formally known as the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), have hit a road-block over contentious issues such as tariff reduction by India on automobiles and wines and spirits and recognition of the country as a data secure destination by the EU.

Rail ties

Huner, who also met Minister of Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal, discussed areas of cooperation between the two countries in Railways. “We were talking about possibilities on cooperation not only in traffic system, including signalling and digital but also in safety system,” he said.

While India’s exports to the Czech Republic mostly comprises engineering goods, there is an opportunity to widen the basket as the country is one of the fastest growing in the EU with a 4.5 per cent GDP growth in 2017, said Czech Ambassador to India Milan Hovorka. Taking an indirect dig at countries such as the US which is creating a big issue about trade deficits, Hovorka said that the bilateral trade between the two countries at $1.5 billion was in India’s favour but the Czech didn’t have any problems with that.

“Both countries benefit from their comparative advantages. We have a deficit with India. We don’t care about deficit. Because we think that this is primarily about relationships and about competitiveness,” Hovorka said.

The Czech Trade Minister pointed out that Czech companies such as automobile giant Skoda, Tetra and financial company Home Credit were doing very well in India and many others had plans of expansion.

India and the Czech Republic also discussed cooperation in nuclear power.

“We have 2,000 MW new capacity (nuclear power) in the Czech Republic. There is a good scope of cooperation with India as our nuclear power stations are using domestic technology. There is interest on both sides and we had very good and strong communication,” Huner said.

Published on March 06, 2018

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