EU Parliament panel may raise FTA issue with Anand Sharma

Source: Business Standard

India-EU free trade agreement is expected to be a major issue that will come up in the meeting between a high-level delegation of European Parliament’s panel on international trade and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.

The seven-member delegation is led by Maria Badia, a member of European Parliament.

“One of the main areas of interest expressed by the delegation is India-EU free trade agreement. On October 29, they will meet Sharma and likely to discuss the pact,” a commerce ministry official said.

The delegation would also share views on India’s position at the forthcoming meeting of WTO members at Bali in December.

India and the 27-nation bloc EU had failed to reach a consensus on the proposed pact in May here.

Both the sides had failed to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues, including insurance and data security status for IT sector.

Launched in June 2007, the negotiations for the proposed broad-based bilateral trade and investment agreement (BTIA) between India and the EU has witnessed many hurdles.

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

On the other hand, India is asking for granting data secure nation status by EU. The matter is crucial as it will have a bearing on Indian IT companies wanting market access. It also wants liberalised visa norms for its professionals and market access in services and pharmaceuticals sector.

The two-way trade between India and EU stood at $91.3 billion in 2010-11.

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