It seems both the sides have started talking to each other and communicating to each other on the process. Indications are coming that India is ready to work with the European Union (EU) to sort out “issues of concern’’ related to the proposed bilateral free trade agreement.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi to mark the second anniversary of Narendra Modi government in office, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the European Union wants to sort out some “misunderstandings” before resuming the talks on the long-stalled proposed Free Trade Agreement with India.
Sitharaman statement commencement comes a day after Cecilia Malmstrom, Trade Commissioner, European Union, said in an interview the EU remains committed to start talks on Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement with India.
Sitharaman said the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has responded to her communication. According to the commerce Minister, EU Trade Commissioner had sought a meeting of chief negotiators of the two sides on the agreement.
“She has written to me and that there are no pre- conditions and that EU would want to have some of the misunderstandings sorted out much before the talks can resume. This is sum and substance of what she has written to me. We want the agreement (the proposed free trade pact) signed,” Sitharaman said, without elaborating what those ‘misunderstandings’ were.
Major differences, from automobile duty to visas
Launched in June 2007, the negotiations for the proposed Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) have seen many hurdles with both sides having major differences on crucial issues like intellectual property rights, duty cut in automobile and spirits, and liberal visa regime.
The pact is aimed at reducing or significantly eliminating tariffs on goods, facilitating trade in services and boosting investments between the two sides. The two-way commerce in goods between India and the EU stood at US$ 98.5 billion in 2014-15.
The Brexit referendum
“In her letter, Minister Sitharaman reiterated India’s request to resume negotiations without preconditions. I reassured her that the EU remains committed to resuming negotiations for an ambitious and broad agreement. This has been clearly spelled out also in the latest EU trade and investment strategy Communication ‘Trade for All’”, Malmstrom, had said in an interview to the leading Indian daily, The Hindu.
However Nirmala Sitharaman cautioned on EU is going through a time when they are waiting for the outcome of Brexit. Brexit referendum is polling for exit or stay of Britain from the EU on June 23.