India-EU FTA: negotiators may meet next month

NEW DELHI: The negotiators of India andEuropean Union are likely to meet here next month in a bid to resolve contentious issues creating a road-block in inking of the bilateralFTA, ahead of their ministers meeting in June.

On April 15 meeting in Brussels, Commerce and Industry Minister 
Anand Sharma and EU Trade Commissioner Karl De Gucht failed to reach on a conclusion and has agreed to meet again in June. 

"Before the ministerial meeting, chief negotiators and expert groups from both the sides are likely to meet next month here. However, the dates are yet to be finalised," sources said. 

Several rounds of meetings have already been held between India and the 27-nation European bloc since the negotiations for the
Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) were launched in June 2007 but both the sides are still engaged in bridging the gaps on several issues. 

EU is pressing for significant duty cuts in auto, 
wines and spirits and dairy products, besides hike in FDI cap in the insurance sector and a strong intellectual property regime. 

On the other hand, India wants liberalised visa norms for its professionals, data secure status and market access in services and pharmaceuticals sector. 

Despite differences over several matters, Sharma has recently said the negotiations are progressing very well. 

Germany, one of the key members of the 27-nation European bloc, very clearly articulated the impediments in conclusion of talks, which has missed several deadlines for conclusion. 

The two-way trade between India and EU was USD 91.3 billion in 2010-11. 

Significantly, European Union has launched the trade talks with Japan last month and gearing up to initiate same with the US in next few months.