The signing of the free trade agreement between India and Europe might take a while as a senior European Union official said in the EU, its “substance” matters more than a deadline and further discussion is needed.
Speaking to ANI, EU Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis admitted that they are not setting any “specific deadline” for the conclusion of talks.
He emphasized the untapped potential in the relationship between India and the EU, stating, “India and the EU are important partners. We share fundamental values and interests.” He also highlighted that the EU is India’s second-largest partner.
While talking about much-awaited FTA, he said: “Well, (FTA) negotiations are proceeding at a good pace. We have already had five rounds of negotiations. We recently exchanged our first market access offers with each other. There is still a lot of ground to be covered.”.
Emphasising on EU’s ambitions for the FTA, Valdis Dombrovskis voiced that the bloc is working on “deep and comprehensive free trade agreements covering a broad range of areas.”
However, it appears the EU’s insistence on clauses on Human Rights and environment standards is still a bone of contention between the two sides.
“It is a well-established practice in the European Union… Modern EU trade agreements contain rules on trade and sustainable development. There are demands from EU members and the EU parliament that EU trade does not lead to deteriorating labour standards and negative consequences. We have included chapters to achieve these. Indeed, we need to discuss these parts,” he mentioned during the press conference.
Moreover, EU has indicated it is not in a hurry to sign an FTA.
“Discussions will be needed on the exact scope. Therefore, we are not setting now specific deadline. In EU, its substance over deadline, so we got to need substance to be able to conclude, but there is willingness from both sides to work intensively,” it added.
Valdis Dombrovskis arrived in India earlier in the week and participated in the G20 Trade and Investment Ministers Meeting in Jaipur.
“It’s a great experience, indeed a pleasure to be here in India for the G20 Trade Minister Meeting, which was a successful meeting…in the background of India’s successful moon landing. I am using this occasion to deepen bilateral engagement between the EU and India,” he said.
He will also co-chair the EU-India High-Level Dialogue on Trade and Investment with Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal in Delhi.
Valdis Dombrovskis will be discussing progress on Free Trade negotiation during his meeting with Goyal.
The negotiations for an FTA between the EU and India were relaunched last year, marking a significant step in trade relations.
Talks initially began in 2007 but were frozen in 2013. The decision to resume negotiations in 2021 reflects the shared commitment to deepen economic ties and promote free and hassle-free trade between the two major partners.
FTA aims to eliminate trade barriers between participating countries, facilitating smoother import and export processes and fostering stronger trade relations.
The negotiations encompass a wide range of areas, including sustainability, labour standards, and environmental considerations, to ensure that trade benefits both parties without adverse impacts on the environment or labour rights.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)