European Union for early free trade pact with India

Briefing reporters here, EU Ambassador Daniele Smadja said despite seven rounds of negotiations, the FTA was still stuck on real tariffs to arrive at regarding trade and services.

She, however, expressed confidence that the FTA, if inked, would go beyond the WTO deal. The joint objective is to achieve WTO plus treaty on tariffs and services for mutual benefit of both.

Quoting a study, sponsored by EU, she said, if FTA was in place, India would be the most benefited. She said Indian textile, leather, metals, electronics, communications, transport and information services would the key sectors that would benefit from the FTA, all r esulting in further creation of jobs. While the current exports from these sectors were around 10 per cent it would shoot up to 20-30 per cent once FTA was in place, she claimed.

Tariff cuts

She pointed out while on a limited FTA the tariff cuts sought on goods was 90 per cent of the volume of trade / tariff lines, in services it was 10 per cent. The ambitious target though, shesaid, was to achieve 95 per cent cuts on goods and 25 per cent on services sector.

While EU’s gain as a result of the FTA would be Euro 9.2 billion, India, on the other, stood to gain nearly double at Euro 17.7 billion nearly 1.6 per cent of the GDP.

Meanwhile, she said, at a bi-lateral level, EU was working with India individually to have fast-track process for movements of professionals and business across EU nations. Once, the FTA is through, she observed that WTO combatile Mode 4 mobility process could be put in place for professionals and businessmen as is being sought by India.

Stating that India was EU’s 10th main trading partner in rank, she said since 2,000 bi-lateral trade between India and EU has grown in leaps and bounds from Euro 13.3 billion in 2002 to over Euro 31.5 billion in 2008.

 Smadja also announced the opening of European Business Group (EBG) office in Bangalore to help European companies network with their Indian counterparts. This is the third such chapter after New Delhi and Mumbai.

DH News Service

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