EU-India leaders meet to focus on trade, investment, connectivity, Covid-19

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on May 05, 2021

The EU is one of India’s largest trading partners   -  Business Line

Stalled free trade pact will also be discussed

The agenda of the EU-India Leaders’ meet to be held virtually later this week is likely to focus on strengthening trade, investment and connectivity to bolster the EU-India strategic partnership and building a more resilient global health system for better pandemic preparedness, sources have said. Discussion on re-starting of the stalled Free Trade Agreement (FTA) may also feature prominently.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Council President Charles Michel, President of the European Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen and heads of the 27 EU member States, who will attend the meet on May 8, are expected to reaffirm their solidarity in the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Trade and investment

“India provided EU members with essential medicines earlier and now, the EU countries are contributing to help India fight the surge in infections and deaths,” the source said.

On the trade and investment front, India is keen on a concrete announcement on re-starting of the stalled India-EU FTA talks that were started in 2007 but abandoned after a few years due to disagreement over issues such as import duty reduction on automobiles & parts, and wines & spirits, and increased mobility for Indian workers in the EU countries.

“The EU has given indications that it may be willing to announce a re-start of negotiations for an FTA but what shape the announcement takes is something that will have to be seen,” the source said.

The leaders will focus on a way forward to facilitate bilateral trade and investment, while advancing WTO reform. “Connectivity, too, is expected to get a lot of attention,” the source said. “The connectivity agreement is likely to cover areas including transport, energy, the digital world and people-to-people contacts.”

The leaders are expected to reiterate their joint determination to protect our planet by fostering green growth, in line with the Paris Agreement, and in the run-up to COP26 and Biodiversity COP15, as per the European Council. The leaders will also discuss co-ordination and co-operation on foreign and security affairs issues of mutual interest. The importance of protecting and promoting human rights and a rules-based order for a safer and more democratic world will also be on the agenda.

Published on May 05, 2021

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