German ambassador Martin Ney talks on India-EU FTA will resume soon
7 Sep 2015
New Delhi: Germany on Thursday said it was hopeful stalled talks on an India-European Union (EU) free trade pact (FTA) will resume soon given global trend towards such regional pacts to boost trade and investment.
The protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) was a key aspect of the negotiations and that foreign investors were looking for long-term security guarantees on this issue, Martin Ney, the new German ambassador, said at a media briefing.
India last month cancelled a meeting with the EU’s chief trade negotiator in protest against an import ban on 700 of its generic drugs for alleged manipulation of clinical trials.
The cancellation was the latest setback to the proposed FTA that the two sides have been negotiating since 2007. Differences over the lack of access for Indian professionals to the EU labour market, and high taxes imposed by India on liquor and car imports from Europe have thwarted the efforts so far.
“I am very hopeful that the talks on the FTA will be taken up very soon,” said Ney, who presented his credentials on Wednesday. In April, India sought German help to give the talks a push.
“I would consider the free trade agreement not only to be in the interest of the EU, but also in the interest of India. When you weigh the pros and cons of any free trade agreement, there’s the fear that you lose sheltered economy, but on the other hand, what you might gain is competitiveness that India probably looks for and what you also gain is a huge interest in foreign investment by having a free trade agreement. So if you weigh these pros and cons, not only in the long term, but also in the mid term, I think the pros are much more in the forefront,” said Ney.
“There is also a growing network of free trade agreements worldwide, so it might also be in India’s interest to be part of the large network of free trade,” he added.
In response to a question on the ban on the Indian generic drugs, Ney said IPR was an important aspect of the India-EU FTA talks.
“Investment is a function of the investment conditions,” Ney said. “Investment capital is very volatile, it’s demand driven. If the investment conditions are right, then the investment will follow. The potential in this country is enormous, but the investment conditions have to be right. We need clarity, legal protection of intellectual property rights is an important element for investor to come and engage long term.”