Europe’s foreign trade association Amfori has said India and the European Union should focus on resolving differences over three crucial issues if they want to break the deadlock on long stalled free trade pact. The talks should initially focus on India’s demand for a liberal visa regime for its nurses, a relaxed geographical indications regime and duty cuts on its textile exports.
EU’s insistence on India committing to sustainability norms is one of the sticking points as Delhi is against the inclusion of non-trade issues such as environment and labour in its trade pacts. The EU now asks for trade and sustainability chapters in all its trade pacts and that is among the five areas of contention between the two sides.
India exported merchandise worth $53.5 billion to the EU in 2017-18 while it imported $47.8 billion worth of goods from the trade bloc. Besides Brexit, the other cause of slow movement on the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) is the EU’s involvement in free trade agreements with other countries, including some in Asia such as the Philippines. The EU’s apprehension to sign a BTIA separate from the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with India has further added to the delay.