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India-EU bilateral trade may touch $ 200 billion: Joao Cravinho

HYDERABAD: The bilateral trade between India and European Union may touch $ 200 billion over the next 4-5 years and it is likely to go up to $ 130 billion in the current year, according to a top EU diplomat. 

Joao Cravinho, 
Ambassador, Delegation of the EU to India, also opined that some of the issues with regard to the proposed Free Trade Agreement between the two parties may turn positive before the end of the UPA government's present term. 

"So we are talking about $ 120 billion to $ 130 billion (of bilateral trade with India). That is really quite significant. I expect that it could reach $ 200 billion within 4 to 5 years," Cravinho told PTI on the sidelines of a programme here on Monday. 

According to the official figures, the EU as a bloc of 28 countries is India's largest trading partner. Bilateral trade between India and the EU was valued at 75.8 billion euro ($ 103.7 billion) during 2012 as compared to 80.2 billion euro ($ 109.4) in 2011, representing a decline of 5.49 per cent. 

"It (the bilateral trade) has been progressing. 2011 was the best ever year. 2012 was little bit lower than 2011. But it was the second best year ever. Now that we have economic improvement in Europe, growth is returning," the 
envoy said. 

Replying a query on the FTA issue, he said there is no further development on some of the bottlenecks that are delaying the process of trade pact. 

"The well-known bottlenecks have been there in the last year. And unfortunately we have had not much movement in the past year. But we are hoping that now in the final stages of this Parliament, this will be possible to arrive at a solution," he said. 

He said since the FTA is a non-political issue, they will take up the issue with the new government after the general elections. 

"Democracy is like that. It happens in our country also. There are election periods in which the government will not take much fundamental decisions. Then there is a little smaller period where a new government looks around to assess the situation to move. So that's normal," Cravinho replied when asked if the elections in India next year would delay the process of negotiations on FTA. 

The FTA negotiations between India and EU began in 2007 and the India-EU Joint Commissions have set up three sub-commissions. 

There are joint workings groups on textiles and clothing, agriculture and marine products, technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, as well as food processing industries, which meet regularly to enhance sector-specific cooperation, according to the information provided by the 
Indian Ministry of External Affairs website.