India, European Union open new round of talks on FTA

BONN: India and the European Union (EU) on Monday opened a new round of trade talks in an attempt to overcome their remaining differences, which have been holding back the signing of a long-awaited free trade agreement ( FTA). 

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry 
Anand Sharma held discussion with EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht at the European Commission building in Brussels, a commission spokesperson said. 

The negotiations are taking place in the backdrop of fresh optimism that after more than six years of negotiations a deal on a comprehensive Bilateral Trade and 
Investment Agreementbetween India and its largest trading partner could be reached before the end of this year. 

The main contentious issues after 15 rounds of negotiations include EU demands that India should hike its equity cap on 
FDI by foreign insurance companies and banks from 26 to 49% and India should further slash its import duties on automobiles. The two sides are also locked in a dispute over the protection of intellectual property rights by India.