India, EU to meet today to iron out FTA issues

India and the European Union will hold a crucial meeting on the proposed free trade agreement today in Brussels to iron out the impediments in concluding of the bilateral pact. 

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma will review the progress of India-EU BTIA at a Ministerial with his EU counterpart Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht at Brussels.

The meeting assumes special significance as negotiations are poised at crucial juncture especially after Indian Prime Minister’s meeting with German Chancellor Ms Angela Merkel where both side obtained greater clarity on each other’s expectations.

In The Joint Statement on the Further Development of the Strategic and Global Partnership between Germany and India on Thursday both sides had underlined "their strong commitment to a successful outcome to the EU India negotiations for a broad based, ambitious and balanced Free Trade Agreement that will generate jobs and growth in both countries."

Discussions will proceed as per the clear mandate given by the committee headed by the Prime Minister.

During the course of discussions, Sharma is likely to press for Data Secure Status for India and an ambitious package in services sector including liberal regime for movement of Indian Professionals. EU is likely to raise the issue of access for their auto sector.

"Minister Sharma will strive to strike a balance which adequately protects the interests of the domestic auto industry," an official press statement said Sunday.

India is likely to seek greater market access for Indian agricultural, pharmaceutical and textiles products and will make a strong pitch for the services sector where India has considerable interest.

India EU BTIA Negotiations are underway with the EU for a Broad based Trade and Investment agreement (BTIA) with 16 Rounds having been completed.

Apart from the regular rounds of negotiations, a number of inter-sessional and Digital Video Conferences in various areas have taken place.

The last meetings at the Chief Negotiators plus expert level were held on 18th -22nd March 2013, at Brussels. Intensive engagements on part of the two sides are a reflection of their desire to finalizing a balanced trade agreement at the earliest.