India, EU launch free trade pact talks after 9-year lull

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India and the European Union (EU) have resumed free trade agreement talks after a nine-year hiatus since the previous talks ended in 2013.

India and the 27-nation bloc held their first round of negotiations from June 27 to July 1 in New Delhi.

“For the European Union, the partnership with India is one of our most important relations for the next decade and strengthening this partnership is a priority,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. . said April 25.

The two sides initially launched talks in 2007, but they stalled in 2013 as the two sides failed to bridge their differences, such as scope of tariff cuts, patent protection, data security and the right of Indian professionals to work in Europe.

The EU is India’s second largest trading partner after the United States, according to India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Merchandise trade between India and the EU hit a record high of $116.36 billion in 2021-2022, with India’s exports to the EU increasing to $65 billion, the ministry said. June 18.

“Both parties want trade negotiations to be broad, balanced and comprehensive, based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity. There will also be discussions on resolving market access issues that impede bilateral trade,” he said.

Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on June 18 that India aims to increase its engagement in global trade through its agreement with the EU, especially in areas where it can benefit from new technologies and investments.

“Deals shouldn’t always be about gain or demands, I think deals should also be good for the negotiating teams and good for the people,” he said, according to local media.

For the EU, a free trade deal with India would fit with its strategy of increasing its engagement with the Indo-Pacific region, where the bloc is aiming for bilateral deals to take advantage of expected higher economic growth.

A deal with India could counterbalance China’s growing influence in the region. The EU is also aware that former EU member Britain is also pushing for a trade deal with India.

India signed a free trade pact with the United Arab Emirates and an interim economic and trade cooperation agreement with Australia in April. Its trade negotiations with Canada and Great Britain are also ongoing.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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Aldgra Fredly is a Malaysia-based freelance writer covering Asia-Pacific news for The Epoch Times.

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