India expects its proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union to be a “game-changer” and is looking forward to a mutually advantageous conclusion to the negotiation process for the pact within a “short planned timeline”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday.
Addressing an event at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Jaishankar also said that Europe and India can strengthen each other’s strategic autonomy by reducing dependencies, cooperating on critical technologies and ensuring supply-chain restructuring.
“We expect the India-EU FTA will be a game-changer for the India-EU relationship. We look forward to a mutually beneficial, mutually advantageous conclusion to the negotiation process within a reasonably short planned timeline,” he said.
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Resumed talks last year
In June last year, India and the European Union restarted the negotiations for the long-pending trade and investment agreement after a gap of over eight years. Launched in June 2007, the negotiations for the proposed agreement have witnessed many hurdles as both sides had major differences on crucial issues.
“India’s new approach to trade agreements addresses issues of non-tariff and behind-the-border barriers, quality standards and related benchmarks,” Jaishankar said. “With like-minded partners, we have actually demonstrated in recent years a fast-track change in our FTA negotiation processes. FTAs with the UAE and Australia were actually concluded in record time,” he said.
Behind-the-border barriers are non-tariff discriminatory trade barriers within a country.
“Europe and India can strengthen each other’s strategic autonomy by reducing dependencies; cooperating on critical technologies; and ensuring supply-chain restructuring. The India-EU FTA is, therefore, our very important goal,” Jaishankar said.
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TTC to play critical role
The external affairs minister said the recently unveiled Trade and Technology Council (TTC) will provide the structure and strategic guidance to the partnership between the two sides.
The TTC is expected to facilitate exchange of critical technologies relating to an array of domains, including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, semiconductors and cyber security. The TTC with India is the European Union’s second such technology partnership after the first one with the United States that was firmed up in June 2021. “I would like to say that India’s relations with Europe are stronger and deeper than ever before and this event itself is a testimony of that assertion,” Jaishankar said.
“Between us, rests the largest democratic and free market space globally. The business communities of India and Europe have a large stake and an enabling role in this transformation,” he said.
(With Agency inputs)