Negotiations on the Indo-European Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which commenced in 2007, are still some distance away from yielding a result, said the Head of the Delegation of the European Commission in India, Ambassador Danièle Smadja. Mrs. Smadja, who was here to open the Bangalore chapter of the European Business Group (EBG), said, “Real negotiations between the two sides have not started yet.” “Both sides have not really placed specific offers on the table,” she said.

Mrs. Samdja said the EC was committed to the FTA because it would go beyond trade liberalisation that was achieved at the WTO. “The FTA will be WTO Plus,” she said. Referring to a study commissioned by the EU, Mrs. Smadja said an Indo-EU FTA would result in Indian exports to the EU increasing by 10 per cent. “In the realm of trade in agricultural products, there are not many problems between India and the European Union,’ she said. While agricultural exports to the EU were valued at 2 billion euro, imports were only 200 million euro, she said.

Although two-way trade had increased from 56.6 billion euro in 2007 to 77 billion euro in 2008, trade volumes “are still below potential”, she said. Mrs. Smadja claimed that the EU had “taken the lead” by volunteering carbon dioxide emission reduction targets. The EU was in “regular dialogue” with the Indian Government in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Summit in November. She said it was also engaged in similar discussions with China.

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