Stressing that automobiles and wines continue to be the crucial points in the long-stalled negotiations for the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with India, the European Union (EU) has said that it offered New Delhi the possibility of asymmetric and gradual elimination of tariffs in the car and car parts and wines and spirits sectors as part of the negotiations on the bilateral FTA. The EU said that the two sides should restart talks only after they have “something meaningful” to deliberate upon. “We cannot allow ourselves to go back to the negotiating table and not being able to bring some real progress into this process. So it is better if necessary to keep on preparing on a more backstage level so that when we sit in front of each other, we have something meaningful to deliver,” Daniel Rosario, spokesperson trade, director-general communication – European Commission, said.
The EU is encouraged by the political momentum the long-discussed India-EU FTA, but the two sides are yet to agree on a time frame for resuming talks on a free trade agreement. “Both sides have “outstanding issues” to sort out and “the European Commission offered India on several occasions and in different formats to create an adequate forum to discuss outstanding issues…to enable the process to move forward,” Mr Rosario said. The last round of talks on India-EU FTA was held in 2013 and the discussions have remained deadlocked on issues such as tariffs on automobiles and wines and spirits.
Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, is scheduled to visit India in June in an effort to re-start India-EU negotiations. The visit comes within months after the EU-India Summit held on March 30 in Brussels, where it was decided to take the talks to another level. India and the EU are also gearing up to kick-start the stalled negotiations on the India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).
In the auto sector, the EU is not happy over the fact that its exporters have to face Indian import duties of up to 100% on cars and car parts. And in the case of wines and spirits, European exporters face tariffs as high as up to 150%, Mr Rosario said. He said that the EU had put forward several proposals in 2013 to break the deadlock. “We are encouraged to see that in the last (India-EU) summit at the end of March, both sides agreed to re-engage in this process to give it the necessary momentum”, he added.
However, the EU made it clear that while it is ready to give a new approach to the talks, it will not be ready to begin from the scratch.
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