After a gap of eight years, India and the European Union are set to resume negotiations for an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement, and an announcement on the formal resumption is expected to be made at a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top leadership of the 27-nation grouping on Saturday. Official sources in the European Union (EU) also said the free trade agreement package will include an investment protection pact as well as a framework on geographical indication.
Launched in June 2007, the FTA talks between India and the EU hit a roadblock in May 2013 when the two sides failed to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues, including tariff, data security status for the IT sector and market access. India and the EU will agree to resume the negotiations at the virtual summit between Prime Minister Modi and top leadership of the bloc, sources said on Thursday.
The two sides are also likely to announce a connectivity partnership at the summit that is aimed at boosting cooperation in sectors like railway, maritime and aviation as well as in the digital domain to bring people of the two sides closer to each other, sources said. Prime Minister Modi was scheduled to visit Portugal for the India-EU summit but it was called off in view of the coronavirus crisis and both sides decided to hold the deliberations virtually.
A strategically important grouping for India, the EU as a whole was country’s largest trading partner in 2018. India’s bilateral trade with the EU in 2018-19 stood at USD 115.6 billion with exports valued at USD 57.17 billion and imports worth USD 58.42 billion. In the 15th India-EU summit in July last year, Prime Minister Modi had pitched for bringing out an “action-oriented” agenda to further expand ties between the two sides.
In that virtual summit, the two sides came out with a roadmap to further strengthen strategic partnership by 2025.