New Delhi, Oct 6 (PTI) European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker today expressed hope that talks on free trade agreement (FTA) between EU and India will move forward in the next few days.
“I believe today’s summit has given a fresh impetus to our negotiations and I am confident our negotiations will establish the way forward in next coming days because your Trade Minister and my Trade Commissioners are meeting few days from now,” he said while addressing India European Union Business Forum here.
Juncker is on the three-day official visit to India for the 14th India-EU Summit.
“We want to conclude that (FTA) once the conditions are right, when the circumstances are right. Once the circumstances are right, we will resume with good faith. I’m confident we can move forward,” he said.
Emphasising that bilateral trade between 28 nation bloc and India has huge potential for growth, he said, FTA or Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) will help achieve the true potential.
“We have significant and balanced trade partnership with India. The EU is already India’s largest trading partner accounting for about 30 per cent of India’s overall trade.
Trade in goods is almost perfectly balanced,” he said.
The EU is India’s largest regional trading partner with bilateral trade in goods at USD 88 billion in 2016. It is also the largest destination for Indian exports and a key source of investment and technologies.
India received around USD 83 billion of foreign direct investment from Europe during 2000-17, constituting approximately 24 per cent of total FDI inflows into the country during the period.
Launched in June 2007, negotiations for the proposed India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) have witnessed many hurdles due to major differences on crucial issues like intellectual property rights, and duty cut in automobile and spirits.
The last year’s summit meeting had also failed to make any headway on the resumption of long stalled negotiations for a free trade agreement.
Earlier in the day, Joint Statement 14th India-EU Summit pointed out that the ongoing efforts of both sides to re- engage actively towards timely relaunching negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial India-EU BTIA.
Talking about data protection, Juncker said “Indian companies providing IT services to many European companies, many of the services they provide involve exchange of personal data, the black gold of 21st century. This data needs to be protected. India-EU should work together on data protection.” The rights citizens enjoy offline should also be protected online, he said.
He also asked India Inc to invest more in the European Union as its growth is picking up.
“European Union is a place to do business. That would remain a case even after Britain’s exit (March 2019),” he said.
Speaking at the occasion, Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar said that 25 per cent of the foreign direct investment comes from EU and there is potential for further growth.
Lauding various initiatives taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said business environment has improved a lot.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.