Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Brussels to make a move on India-EU free trade; however, both the countries are yet to agree on resuming talks on a free trade agreement.
Representatives from Europe are in talks with the Indian ministry of external affairs and with the ministry of commerce to talk about primary issues of concern for both the nations before negotiations for the India-EU trade can take off.
Europe is concerned about 100 pc import duties imposed by India on cars and car parts and up to 150 pc tariff on wines and spirits and is ready to go ahead with its 2013 offer of accepting long transitional periods for their elimination.
“We had suggested on long transitional periods for their elimination or going as far as accepting asymmetric elimination of these duties in favour of India,” Daniel Rosario, spokesperson for Europe trade department said.
“The proposal made in 2013 was for a gradual, if not complete, elimination of duties and taking into account Indian sensitivities. We clearly identified the areas where we expect India to make some movement and we offered some fora to go into some specific discussions to allow for the general discussion to move ahead. But for the time being this has not happened yet,” Rosario said in the case of wines and spirits.
Facilitating the migration of professionals
Whereas for India, the primary concern is about ‘Mode 4’, a provision of the 1995 general agreement on trade in services that facilitates the migration of professionals from one nation to another.
According to a senior official, New Delhi may commit to a schedule to restart free trade discussions with Europe only after it is sure that key outstanding issues can be resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both sides.
India is one of the world’s biggest emerging markets for Europe and is well placed to bargain from a position of strength and set mutually beneficial terms.
New Delhi feels Europe is now possibly preoccupied with talking to the US on the transatlantic trade and investment partnership rather than talking trade with India.