EU/India FTA: making steady progress

Progress was registered, on 15 April, in the negotiations for a free trade agreement between the European Union and India, under way for the last five years, following a visit to Brussels by India’s trade minister, the European Commission announced. Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Indian Minister Anand Sharma “had a positive meeting that gave new impetus to take the talks forward,” said De Gucht’s spokesman. “We hope to see further progress in the coming months,” he added. The meeting aimed to obtain a political agreement to give fresh impetus to the negotiations, rather than to resolve the particular points on which the talks have been stumbling for more than five years, said European sources. These sticking points include the extent of protection offered to the automotive industry and the alcoholic beverages market, opening of the Indian insurance market and the question of intellectual property. New Delhi is very protective of its large pharmaceuticals industry. Some Indian companies have become major players as manufacturers of generic versions of drugs initially developed elsewhere but no longer protected by a patent. This is looked on positively by humanitarian and medical aid associations since it provides medicines at lower cost, particularly to combat AIDS. India is seeking better access to the EU services sector, in particular for its large IT services industry. The free trade negotiations opened in 2007 and India had hoped to bring them to a close by the end of 2011. (Source: Europolitics)


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