Germany pushes for early conclusion of India-EU FTA

Source: Business Standard

Germany today pressed India for early conclusion of the long-pending Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union, saying it would be a pity if India “misses this FTA train” just because elections are nearing.

German Ambassador Michael Steiner stressed that if India wants to get back to growth of eight per cent, it needs investment. Underscoring the importance of Free Trade and Investment agreement for India, he said both the Indian Prime Minister and the German Chancellor are in in its favour. 
With Chancellor Angela Merkel securing a stunning hat-trick win in Germany’s parliamentary elections, the ambassador said nothing will change on the fundamentals in the foreign policy front.

“Germany continues to be absolutely pro-Europe, pro further integration steps and will continue on the path of solidarity and solidity,” he added.

The ambasador said it is “strategically important that European Union facilitates its relations with India”.

“The trade aspect is not so important but investment is. If India wants to get back to growth of 8 per cent, it needs investment. We need investments from companies who are not following the phiolosophy of hot money but really strategic long term presence in the country. It would be a pity if India misses this FTA train and others will go ahead simply because elections are nearing here,” he said.

Launched in June, 2007, the negotiations for the proposed Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) between India and the 27-nation European bloc has witnessed many hurdles with both sides having major differences on crucial issues.

Despite the hiccups, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had in July voiced hope that the pact will be sealed soon.

The EU side has been pressing for hiking FDI cap to 49 per cent in the insurance sector. India has expressed its inability to do so without an approval from the Parliament.

Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, EU is also demanding for tax reduction in wines and spirits and dairy products and a strong intellectual property regime.

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