India to protect auto industry in FTA with EU: Sharma

"They (our negotiators) have a mandate to ensure that the interest of the domestic (automobile) industry is taken care of and adequately protected," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said here.

He was responding to a question about the concerns raised by Indian automobile industry on the India-EU agreement. Indian automobile industry has apprehensions that with the FTA, the import duties on passenger cars may be slashed.

At present, high-end passenger cars attract import duty of over 100 per cent (basic plus other levies). The fear is that if India agrees for aggressive cuts in these duties, there would not be any incentives for global auto majors to set up their manufacturing base in the country.

With drastic cuts in import tariff, they would be able to capture the fast growing Indian market without even manufacturing them in the country.

"I would urge the industry not to be misled into reacting based on speculations and incorrect reports," Sharma said. India and EU are negotiating a Bilateral Trade and Investment agreement since 2007 and the talks have reached advanced stage.

He is leading a CII business delegation here for the 'India Show'. India has established a strong base for the automotive manufacturing particularly in the passenger car segment, both for domestic market as also exports. Even, the luxury car manufacturers like BMW, Audi and Mercedes have set up their assembling units in India.

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