EU-India free trade deal to be game-changer

Brussels, Oct 1 (IANS) A conference on European Union (EU)-India trade and business partnership concluded in the European Parliament in Brussels stressing that the Bilateral Free Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) once concluded will be a win-win situation for both sides.

The BTIA “if and when concluded will be the one big ticker item in the EU-India partnership, a game changer which will set the parameters for the trade relationship for the next ten years”, said Professor Rajendra Jain, director, Europe Area Studies, Centre for European Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, in his keynote address on Wednesday.

“The reason that there was no headway in the talks was due to a mismatch of the levels of ambitions and expectations. There has to be a give and take,” he said.

“I think the EU has had a tendency of over negotiating at times. There has to be realism in the negotiations when they resume. It is time to stop looking for a perfect deal.”

Manjeev Singh Puri, Indian ambassador to the EU, in his speech noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his meetings with European leaders has stressed his interest in the BTIA.

India and Europe are moving ahead,” he said referring to the visit of Modi to France and Germany and his upcoming visit to the UK.

“The Indian economy is the fastest growing economy among the largest economies in the world,” Puri said and listed several areas of potential cooperation such as smart cities projects, digital programmes, manufacturing, education between EU and India.

They were addressing the annual Trade and Investment Partnership Summit (TIPS) 2015 organised by the Brussels-based Euro-India Chamber of Commerce (EICC) under the theme “Changing Dynamics in EU-India Relations: Business & Strategic Implications in the Next Decade”.

On his part, David Campbell-Bannerman, European Parliament’s rapporteur for the EU-India free trade agreement said “it is very important for all to get the free trade agreement done.”

Other European and Indian speakers addressed the current state of business collaboration between EU and India and how it can be further improved.

Representatives from business houses, chambers of commerce and investment agencies from Europe and India made presentations on the present scenario and perspectives, problems, prospects and potentials in EU-India trade and business partnerships.

Founded on October 4, 2004, the EICC is a non-profit, privately funded non-government organisation which serves as the key liaising body representing the views of both European and Indian business and enterprises having business interest in their respective countries.

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