India to Sign Free Trade Agreement with European Union

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Mar. 29 – India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma confirmed government commitment last week to enter into a free trade and investment agreement with the European Union by October.

“We are working on it. As far as we are concerned, we have a commitment,” Sharma was quoted by The Hindu as saying when asked whether the negotiations can successfully be concluded before the October India-E.U. Summit in Brussels. Sharma said that no “extraneous issues” can be brought into the agreement.

“Issues are discussed, issues will always remain. We are very clear on our position…no extraneous issues can be brought into the India-EU trade and investment agreement,” Sharma said.

The European Union is New Delhi’s largest trading partner. Both sides have been in talks regarding a market opening pact since June 2007 to boost their bilateral commerce worth an estimated US$82 billion. The agreement will not include non-trade issues like the environment and labor standards; factors that stalled negotiations in 2009.  It is aimed at removing or cutting down import duties and easing bilateral investment.