European International Trade Commissioner-designate Karel De Gucht
A FREE trade agreement with the European Union could create new export opportunities worth $9bn (£6bn) for Indian industries, EU trade chief Karel de Gucht said today. De Gucht, on a visit to India, said he expected good progress in the coming months on trade negotiations between the second most populous country in the world and the 27-nation EU. “With India we will conclude a deal that benefits us both, or there will be no deal,” De Gucht wrote in an editorial piece published in the Economic Times of India. India began negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU, its largest trading partner, in 2007, but the talks have run into a wall of differences, especially over EU efforts to link trade with sensitive topics which India wants to keep off the table. Disagreements over market access, intellectual property rights, a dispute over generic drugs and the EU’s desire to include issues such as climate change and child labour have stalled the talks. De Gucht said he was aware of the difficulties in overcoming some of the hurdles but added an agreement could increase Indian exports to the EU by a third from the current level and Indian firms could also benefits from the opening of services and investment markets. Trade between India and the EU has grown by 16 per cent annually and currently stands at $106.4bn (£70.5bn), but is still less than one-fifth of the EU’s trade with China. De Gucht said successful trade deal could make India a much more attractive destination for European investment.
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