EU-India virtual summit: Building on mutual strength

EICC calls for quick & balanced India-EU FTA

Business

July 13, 2020

/ By / Brussels

EU-India virtual summit

The 15th bilateral Summit of India and the European Union (EU) will be held on July 15 via video conference

Though it may be a virtual summit, secretary general of Europe India Chamber of Commerce Sunil Prasad says he has high expectations of some real results from EU-India virtual summit meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

As India and the European Union prepare to organise their first-ever summit meeting since the new team at the European Commission has taken charge, the Europe India Chamber of Commerce, the apex chamber of Europe that promotes trade, economic and bilateral relations between European Union and India, has urged both the sides to take urgent measures to ensure a sustained and rapid economic recovery following the economic disaster unveiled by coronavirus-pandemic.

In a statement, released on Monday, Sunil Prasad, secretary general of the EICC, says the chamber was committed to an ambitious, balanced, and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to deliver significant economic benefit for both sides, adding that it would include elimination of tariffs and technical barriers to trade, market access for goods and services, protection of investment and intellectual property rights, as well as competition. ‘‘Success would create growth and employment, provide more of a level-playing field for all economic operators and serve the public interest, in the post-pandemic world. To gainfully benefit from an EU-India FTA, and for business to be able to support its conclusion, the FTA must provide equal market opportunities for each party to the agreement,’’ he says.

A free trade agreement between European Union and India would build on the existing strong relations between them to simultaneously boost more than one and a half decade of their strategic partnership, Prasad adds.

The EICC secretary general says it is deeply concerned the unprecedented impact the COVID-19 is having on businesses as it has caused an unimaginable collapse of economic activities, and on human lives; both directly and indirectly. With hopes of a sharp rebound from the pandemic-induced recession fading and uncertainty still in the air, policymakers in EU and India will need to take stock of what it will take to achieve a sustained economic recovery, and how they can jointly address the crisis, Prasad says.

Sunil Prasad, secretary general of EICC

‘‘While the pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for humanity, the economic disruption has offered India a unique opportunity to reinvent itself as a manufacturing powerhouse. As companies want to diversify their supply chains post-COVID 19, this represents a golden opportunity for India, which it should seize with market-friendly approaches. By harmonizing trade and FDI policies, it could further improve its competitiveness, and European companies can become partners in progress,’’ he adds.

The EICC also highlights the challenges posed by an aggressive China, especially the recent stand-off in Ladakh, saying that the Chinese government must be held accountable for its lies, deception, and cover-ups that ultimately led to the global COVID-19 pandemic, adding that Chinese expansionist behaviour especially along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India as also in the South China Sea (SCS) is threatening regional stability. ‘‘It is a wake-up call for European companies to introspect their investment policies and take suitable action for re-structuring their supply-chain dependency on China,’’ he says.

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