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India should restart talks with EU: Belgium Minister

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on November 30, 2019 Published on November 30, 2019

Karel De Gucht, former EU commissioner for Trade, Minister of State, Belgium

India should re-commence negotiations with the European Union (EU) for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), according Karel De Gucht, former EU commissioner for Trade, Minister of State, Belgium.

He was speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of a meeting on `Your Pharma and Life Sciences Hub in Europe - Belgium’, a roadshow to promote investments in Belgium held here on Saturday.

He was EU commissioner for Trade when the negotiations were halted before formation of present government at Centre this year.

Stating that India should have a FTA with the EU, he said: “`This is because you need to have partners in international trade. You are limiting partners and hampering investment in infrastructure and access to expertise (by not having a trade pact with EU),” Gucht said.

RCEP

When asked on his view on India exiting from Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP), the Belgium minister said: “`I have mixed feelings on this...”

While India’s doubts about reciprocity could be understood, it might be able to tackle them. “You will be together with many other countries and RCEP will be like a loose agreement and will not be a tight one,” he said adding that that could throw up opportunities to address concerns on reciprocity.

Referring to China’s stance on trade aspects, he said trade war with China ``is systemic’’ and it could be resolved by agreements. ``EU should negotiate politely with China to change its course,’’ he added. A coercive approach being adopted by the US might not work, he opined.

``Problems with China will be there at least for next one decade. Other countries should come together,’’ Gucht said. On the Brexit, the minister said: ``I think Great Britain will leave.’’

India-Belgium

Referring to bilateral trade between India and Belgium, the minister said there was `huge potential’ in sectors like pharmaceuticals, Information Technology, among others.

Indian generic companies and R&D firms should come to Belgium to take advantage of good tax system. ``We have good scope for generic companies and Indian firms should start manufacturing in Belgium,’’ he said.

GV Prasad, Co-Chairman and CEO, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd and Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Belgium in Hyderabad said the penetration of Indian pharma companies was lower in Belgium than in UK and Germany. ``There is scope for more generics,’’ he added.

Mark Van de Vreken, Consul-General, Consulate General of Kingdom of Belgium said the bilateral trade between India and Belgium was at $19 billion last year and there was lot of scope for growth.

Belgium is a global pharma valley with over 200 pharma businesses including majors such as UCB, Janssen Pharmaceutica, GSK. Pfizer and Baxter. It is the second largest pharma exporter and is known for expertise in vaccine research.

Published on November 30, 2019
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