New Delhi – Leaders from India and the EU began talks at a summit Friday amid hopes that negotiations on a free trade agreement could be revived soon.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi – along with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker – were leading their respective delegations at the summit in New Delhi’s Hyderabad House.
Trading and commercial relations will be a key topic for discussion, Juncker wrote in an editorial in the Indian Express daily. “I hope and I believe that talks on an EU-India Free Trade Agreement can resume in the not too distant future,” he said.
The EU aim the elimination of indian tariff lines
Talks on an EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement – which seeks to improve market access for goods by eliminating tariff lines – began in 2007, but have stalled since 2013. Key sticking points include European demands that India remove tariffs on car and car parts, wine and spirits. There are also differences about intellectual property rights.
The European Union, as a bloc of 28 countries, is India’s largest regional trading partner, with bilateral trade worth 88 billion dollars in 2016. An investment facilitation mechanism for EU investors and the “strong engagement” of the European Investment Bank in India will be launched at the talks, an EU statement said.
Tusk, in an interview with the Times of India, listed climate change, counterterrorism and urbanization as three areas for “concrete cooperation.
Other topics to be discussed include foreign and security policies in connection with the situation in the Korean Peninsula, Ukraine as well as Afghanistan.