India, EU to meet on Nov 14-15 to push FTA talks

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018

A file picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Donald Franciszek Tusk, President of the European Council and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission in a meeting last month   -  PTI

Both sides to identify the ‘hard issues’ and the ‘low-hanging fruits’

India and the European Union (EU) will be making another attempt to set in motion the stalled negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement on November 14-15 during a stock-taking meet on state-of-play in the discussions even as a formal round of talks remains elusive.

The meeting will take place here and it will be held between India’s Chief Trade Negotiator Anup Wadhawan from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Helena König from EU, who will be “identifying the difficult areas that require hard bargain as well as the low hanging fruits that can be achieved easily”, diplomatic sources told BusinessLine.

A meeting of the negotiators was decided during the 14th India-EU Summit that was held here last month.

During the summit-level meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, it was decided that before finalising a date for a formal round of talks, the chief negotiators should take stock of where things are at present, sources said.

The last round of talks was held in 2013. However, since then a series of informal talks have taken place but all of them failed to kick-start the talks from where they were left.

‘India flexible’

According to sources, while India seems to be ready to pick up talks, it is insistent on obtaining the coveted status of a ‘data-secure’ country that will enable free flow of data between India and EU.

Apparently, India is now ready to pick up the negotiations from where they were left in 2013 contrary to what it said initially that the talks will have to start afresh, according to another official, who is involved in the talks.

In fact, the official added, India is even ready to show “flexibility” in some of the old demands of the EU on lowering tariffs in automobiles and wines and spirits. But in return, it would bargain for the data adequacy issue.

“The ‘data secure’ status will not only allow us to ring-fence some of the issues the country is facing in terms of domestic cyber security laws, it will also augment the government’s entire ‘Digital India’ campaign. But this can become a very difficult bargain. It has become a big issue for India,” said Biswajit Dhar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The Modi government is now keen to launch the talks in an effort to attract investments from Germany and France and also get more market access in services trade for Indian professionals. Besides, this will also boost the government’s flagship campaign ‘Make in India.’

India can find more innovative ways like pushing for services embedded in manufacturing, said Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director, CUTS International.

“This is a new issue that is currently under discussion among various countries. India can try pushing for it if it wants gains out of the EU FTA,” he said.

Published on November 08, 2017

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor