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India, EU to recommence FTA negotiations after 8 years

It is expected that India and the European Union (EU) may announce the continuation of the halted free trade talks during the India-EU leaders’ meeting on 8 May. Sources state that the two countries will resume the conversation after 8 years and pick from right where they had left.

Both the parties may not only focus on bilateral ties, but may also cooperate in view of the rise of an unpredictable China. As per sources, the meeting will be between the world’s largest democracies with shared values and common interests. These two democracies support multilateralism and an international order based on rules. Both the parties focus on demonstrating that a democratic and open model can play an important role in addressing global challenges.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be a part of a virtual summit hosted by Portugal, in which all 27 EU leaders will present. The Indian foreign ministry stated that the leaders of EU countries have met only once before in this format with the US president in March.

The scheduled visit of the Indian PM to Portugal was called off after the exploding second wave of Covid-19 infections in India. The EU has always been there for India during these times of crisis. So far, the union has partnered with the WHO and has sent aid worth €100 million and another €2.2 million in grants to alleviate the impact of Covid-19.

As per the sources, the leaders may endorse the launch of negotiations on three agreements on trade, investment, and geographical indications, which will be a major step towards further developments. Both parties plan to come to a comprehensive agreement covering all areas of trade. They are not looking for an early harvest, but a comprehensive set of negotiations, which had been facilitated by a new pace in ties. The three agreements, which are balanced, ambitious, and very comprehensive, will be a part of an overall package, from which both the parties will gain both economically and strategically.

The free trade talks were launched in June 2007 but hit a roadblock as both parties could not arrive to mutual understanding on major issues such as duty on wines and spirits, data security for IT sector, and market access.