India, EU to resume free trade pact talks

New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) India is in the process of resuming the free trade agreement (FTA) talks with the European Union that were called off last year, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday.

“We are resuming talks on the FTA with the EU, Australia, Canada and also negotiating with the RCEP (composed of ASEAN nations and the 6 countries including India it has FTAs with),” she told media persons here.

“Such trade agreements give a captive area for our products,” she added.

FTA talks with the EU, called off last year in response to its ban on sale of around 700 Indian pharma products, are slated to be held at the EU-India summit-level meeting in Brussels on January 17-18, a senior source said.

In July, the EU had banned over 700 pharma products of GVK Biosciences, Hyderabad, for alleged manipulation of clinical trials.

The last round of the FTA talks, started in 2007, was held in May 2013 without any breakthroughs owing to EU concerns on high tariffs on cars and wines, while India’s concerns are in the area of services.

The EU is seen to be keen to resume FTA talks in view of the economic slowdown in Europe.

India’s exports to the European Union in 2014-15 contracted around 4.5 percent to $49.3 billion, while imports fell over 2 percent to $48.8 billion.

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