Mandelson favours ambitious India-EU FTA

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New Delhi, Nov 29 (UNI) European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson today favoured an ambitious Free Trade Agreement between India and EU and said the country needs to evolve a level playing field to attract larger doses of Foreign Direct Investment(FDI).

"India is now an indispensable part of of the global economic architecture. Reinforcing strong Indian economic growth was now an integral part of maintaining global economic demand and a healthy global economy and a mark of India's growing weight in the world," Mr Mandelson told a news conference here.

Mr Mandelson said a comprehenasive EU- India FTA could provide strong boost to the Indian manufacturing sector through new access to the European markets and by making European industrial exports to India cheaper.

He said the EU would like to see openness in services and investment trade extended to government procurement in India.

Mr Mandelson said the EU would reciprocate any new access India offered in this regard.

Mr Mandelson argued that the FTA could help attract new EU investments to India, helping the Indian government to attract investment it wants for infrastructure investments.

The EU Commissioner parried a question as to when the FTA would come into existence, saying that after it is negotiated.

"European services companies bring with them skills, capital and experience that India desires", he said.

The Commissioner cited the successful Indian experience of mobile telephony liberalisation, which boosted mobile phone ownership in India by 2006.

Urging that European and Indian business needs to push for an ambitious outcome of the FTA negotiations launched earlier this year, Mr Mandelson said the business community should "throw its weight behind a deal that does justice to the ambition we brought to the table a year ago," To attract a larger quantum of FDI, Mr Mandelson said India needs to provide larger market access and a level playing field to European companies.

Mr Mandelson said India needs to work to get larger FDI flows and set in place a regulatory regime which favours a rule-based system.

India was well on its way to doing so, but needs to clear the remaining cobwebs in the area, he said.

Mr Mandelson said greater trade with Europe in services was in favour of India and said these needs to be developed with a view to ensuring a higher rate of economic growth and development.

UNI

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