Policy

India, EU may resume FTA talks on sidelines of Sept G-20 meet in China

Nayanima Basu Brussels | Updated on January 20, 2018

Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR, United Kingdom),   -  The Hindu

New chief negotiator likely to appointed, says official

An effort will be made to restart talks on the India-European Union (EU) Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit to be held in China in September.

Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR, United Kingdom), Chair of European Parliament Delegation for relations with India, said: “Talks on the BTIA will take place in September on the sidelines of the G20 meeting ...We want progress on the free trade agreement. India is potentially the fastest growing emerging economy. There’s a space for everybody. It’s not that if foreign investments, foreign businesses come in it will shove out domestic business. I see no reasons why we should not be moving on this.”

Talks on the BTIA were stalled in 2013. However, during the EU-India Summit held here on March 30, both sides agreed to “further” the talks, but a formal date for the next official round of negotiations has not been finalised yet.

The main reasons for talks getting stalled were because in some of the areas the ambitions “are a bit too much” and there could be some merit in getting lesser than expected, Orden said. The Minister of Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman has also written a letter to her counterpart EU Trade Cecilia Malmström seeking an official date for negotiations. But, there has been no response from the latter yet, sources told BusinessLine.

Focus on TTIP

Officials in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry believe that the EU is now putting greater emphasis and channelising all its energies into negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US, which is taking most of its time.

According to Orden, the EU is now likely to appoint a new chief negotiator mainly to negotiate the BTIA with India.

“A lot of effort is going into TTIP. For a long time we have the same negotiator responsible for all of these agreements ... I do think the capacity to deal with several major trade agreements may be lacking. I understand that the arrangement now is slightly different,” he added.

On the issue of Brexit, a referendum for which is slated to take place on June 23, Orden said if this happens it would bring “seismic shock to the European Union” and put a question mark on EU’s relations with other countries.

“That's one of the concerns people in Brussels have. There would be lot of questions on the EU’s relationship with other countries,” he added.

‘Strong anchor needed’

Shada Islam, Director, Policy Friends of Europe, a Brussels-based think tank, said: “Although the bilateral trade between India and EU has touched almost €100 billion, we need a strong anchor for carrying on a robust trading relationship, which is now lacking. If the BTIA goes through, we will be able to move beyond just trade and become true strategic partners.”

(The writer was in Brussels on an invitation from the Delegation of European Union to India)

Published on May 03, 2016

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