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India-EU ministers to meet only after concrete deliverables

NEW DELHI: With "substantial gap" yet to be bridged in the India-EU FTA, the meeting between their trade ministers will only be scheduled after concrete deliverables are achieved during the talks between the chief negotiators here on May 15. 

"It (the ministerial meeting in June) depends on the progress we make at the chief negotiator level. The minister level meeting will be finalised only after that meeting," a top official in the commerce ministry said. 

Although the official said lot of gaps have been bridged "still substantial gap" was yet to be covered. 

However, in April, an official statement issued after the meeting of Commerce and Industry Minister 
Anand Sharma and his European Union (EU) counterpart Karel De Gucht in Brussels had said "the next Ministerial meeting is scheduled for June". 

Recently, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry D Purandeswari had said that final positions are yet to emerge as the negotiations on various contentious issues, including duty cuts in automobile sector are still on. 

While the 27-nation bloc is pressing hard for a significant duty cut in automobile sector in the proposed Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), Indian industry is strongly opposed to such a move. 

Besides in automobiles, EU is pressing for duty cuts in 
wines and spirits and dairy products, 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. 

The total trade between India and the EU stood at USD 94.43 billion during April-February 2012-13. It aggregated to USD 109.86 billion in 2011-12.