Source: Financial Express, Feb 20, 2017
New Delhi: The European Union today pressed India to extend by six months its bilateral investment pacts with several EU-member countries which are expiring soon, saying absence of the treaties could adversely impact trade ties and FTA talks. A high-level European Parliament delegation, here to gauge India’s views about the Trump administration and discuss various key issues concerning India-EU ties, also expressed concern over situation in Jammu and Kashmir and called for improvement in ties between India and Pakistan. Chair of the EU delegation for relations with India Geoffrey Van Orden said EU wants New Delhi to renew the investment deals first to take forward the stalled FTA talks. “It will be helpful if trade and investment pacts can be extended for six months. The issue has become a problem for the FTA talks,” he told reporters.
India’s existing trade and investment pacts with The Netherlands have come to an end in November while while similar pacts with several other EU countries will expire in the coming months.
Orden said expiry of the pacts will make it difficult for the European countries to go for fresh investments in India, adding the EU want India to first give the extension to the pacts and then move ahead with the FTA which is known as EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA). On Kashmir, he said EU is always sensitive about issues relating to human rights violations, adding certain forces do not want India-Pakistan relations to improve.
He said there ware “serious problem” of Pakistan containing terrorists and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had showed his resolve to improve ties with Islamabad.
Orden said the aim of the delegation is to understand India’s views on the Trump administration, discuss issues relating to Pakistan and matters concerning India-EU ties.
The delegation is meeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Commerce Minister NirmalaSitharaman and Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh during which the issues are likely to be flagged.
The BTIA talks have been stalled since May, 2013, when both sides failed to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues, including data security status for IT sector.
Launched in June 2007, negotiations for the proposed agreement have witnessed many hurdles as both the sides have major differences on crucial issues.
In the EU-India Summit in Brussels, the two sides had failed to make any announcement on resumption of the negotiations as many bottlenecks still remain.The two sides are yet to iron out issues related to tariff and movement of professionals but the EU has shown an inclination to restart talks.
Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, the EU wants tax reduction in wines, spirits and dairy products, and a strong intellectual property regime.
On the other hand, India is asking for granting ‘data secure nation’ status to it by the EU. The country is among nations not considered data secure by the EU.
The matter is crucial as it will have a bearing on Indian IT companies wanting market access.