India and EU strike trade pact to help unlock huge untapped potential: Goyal
As India and the European Union (EU) formally resume negotiations on proposed agreements on trade, investment and geographical indications (GIs), Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said that the implementation of these pacts would help unlock the significant untapped potential for strengthening economic ties between the two regions, reports Trend citing Financial Express.
India and the EU formally resumed negotiations on the proposed agreements on June 17, after a hiatus of more than eight years. Goyal said they were here to relaunch negotiations for a fair, equitable and balanced Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and India.
“We have our teams in place… This will further strengthen our relationship. Our bilateral trade has increased significantly over the past few months… There is significant untapped potential that we hope to unlock with the execution of these three agreements – trade, investment and GI,” he told reporters here.
India had started talks for a trade pact, dubbed the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), with the 27-nation economic bloc in 2007, but talks stalled in 2013 as the two sides failed to reach agreement on key issues, including customs. taxes on automobiles and spirits, and the movement of professionals. Asked about the main demands from the Indian side, Goyal said India wants to engage with the world on modern products and look at where it can win in terms of new technologies and investments.
“All the cards are on the table and we come in with an open heart and an open mind…Deals don’t always have to be about winning or demands, I think deals should be too, that which is good for the negotiating teams and for the people,” he said.
He added that there was a time when India was “super sensitive” on issues like gender and sustainability, but over the past few years the country has demonstrated to the world “a very deep commitment to these topics”. . “We’re looking at the technology, we’re looking at more long-term, low-cost funding to move much faster to the sustainable side,” he added.
European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said both sides were aiming for an ambitious and comprehensive FTA.
Asked about the EU’s main automotive, wine and sustainability requirements, he said: “According to the standards of the WTO (World Trade Organisation), these types of agreements must cover essentially all trades. There may be specific exemptions… As far as sustainability is concerned, I will say that no modern agreement in the EU is possible without ambitious chapters on trade and sustainable development. These chapters generally cover employment, broader environmental, human rights and labor issues, he added.
“The next round of negotiations will take place from June 27 to July 1 in New Delhi. We are pursuing an ambitious schedule and aim to conclude the talks by the end of 2023,” Dombrovskis said.
The EU and India are already major trading partners, with annual trade of €120 billion. The EU is India’s third largest trading partner, accounting for almost 11% of Indian trade in 2021. India is the EU’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for just over 2% of EU trade in 2021. This relatively small share of total EU goods trade reveals significant untapped potential, he added.
India’s merchandise exports to EU member countries amounted to around USD 65 billion in 2021-22, while imports amounted to USD 51.4 billion. A GI is mainly an agricultural, natural or manufactured product (artisanal and industrial products) originating in a specific geographical territory.
Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to its place of origin.