Roadmap for FTA with EU drawn, hope for conclusion next year: Nath

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New Delhi, Nov 29 (UNI) The government today said it is finalising a roadmap on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which is expected to conclude by next year that will address synergies between India and the EU.

''Since the issue of agriculture does not figure out with the EU country, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) should be concluded by next year,'' said Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath.

The EU is India's largest trading partner and we are in the process of negotiating a business and services agreement, said Mr Nath.

With several complimentaries and synergies in our economy, we believe it will be a win-win situation for India and the EU, he said.

Mr Nath said the agreement not only covered goods but also services, technology, and investment which is very important to both India and the EU.

Mr Nath told the eighth India-EU business summit here that the agreement is in its initial stages and there will not be many staking points since agriculture is not an issue with them.

Indian and EU leaders will meet for tomorrow to iron out the differences and push forward the proposed free trade deal.

''We are looking at an ambitious agreement. To ensure that we are getting more than what we are giving, India will bring 90 per cent of its trade under the agreement and we wish the EU brings 95 per cent of its trade under the agreement.'' The 8th India-EU Business Summit, is jointly organised by industry chamber CII and FICCI in partnership with the Commerce Ministry.

Mr Nath said the momentum towards the FTA is gaining and will move forward if EU did not bring any extraneous issues in the discussions.

Recently European NGOs had alleged that a Local supplier to US retail major GAP resorted to child labour.

Mr Nath had then reacted strongly and had stated that these are not non-tariff barriers which could be responded with measures of similar kind.

The EU accounts for around one-fifth of India's total trade (21.1 per cent in 2006) whereas India contributes around 1.5 per cent of the total EU trade and is its 10th largest partner.

However, in the past few years substantial growth in trade has been achieved. In 2006-07 (April to December), India's exports to the EU stood at 19.2 billion dollars whereas India's imports from it amounted to 20.1 billion dollars.

India's exports to the EU increased from 18.2 billion dollars in 2004-05 to 23.3 billion dollars in 2005-06, registering a growth of 27.3 per cent. On the other hand, India's imports from EU also increased from 19.3 billion dollars in 2004-05 to 26 billion dollars in 2005-06, recording a growth of 34.7 per cent.

UNI

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