India, European Union to resume FTA negotiations after 8 years

The two sides also agreed to launch negotiations for two key pacts on investment protection and geographical indications.

India and European Union (EU) on Saturday agreed to enhance the bilateral trade and investment relationship through the resumption of negotiations for a balanced, ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement, eight years after its suspension, the external affairs ministry said.

The two sides also agreed to launch negotiations for two key pacts on investment protection and geographical indications.

These decisions were taken during a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the heads of state or governments of all the 27-member states of the European bloc with a focus on expanding overall cooperation in trade, investment and connectivity.

The move to end the stalemate over the trade talks that were frozen in 2013 due to differences on key issues such as market access and mobility of professionals and resume the dialogue, was announced in a joint statement launched at the EU-India virtual summit in Porto. The summit was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leaders of all the 27 member countries of the EU, Charles Michel, President of the European Council and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. Modi also called out to the EU to support the vaccine patent waiver. The EU leaders also expressed solidarity with India on the ongoing crisis triggered by upsurge in Covid 19 cases and deaths.

As part of the agreement, India and the EU will move towards finding solutions to long-standing market access issues and launch negotiations on a stand-alone investment protection agreement.

The two sides agreed to create a joint working group to intensify regulatory cooperation on goods and services, including but not limited to the green and digital technologies. This would be complimented by the agreement to set up a joint working group on resilient supply chains, building on the experience gained from the Covid-19 pandemic.

To further strengthen coordination on global economic governance, notably in the WTO and in the G20, India and the EU agreed to set up an EU-India senior officials’ dialogue to deepen bilateral cooperation on WTO issues, under the supervision of the High-Level Dialogue on Trade and Investment.
In another important outcome, India and the EU launched a sustainable and comprehensive ‘Connectivity Partnership’ that will promote rules based connectivity based on a level playing field for economic operators.

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