Serious differences persist in intellectual property issues, pharma, automobiles

With both India and the European Union (EU) unable to find a common ground, the India-EU free trade agreement (FTA) is unlikely to happen before the India-EU summit next month as trade talks between the European block and the biggest democracy in the world stand deadlocked over serious differences over various issues, including intellectual property issues, pharmaceutical and automobiles.

The FTA talks that resumed last week in Brussels have failed to move in the right direction with both the sides bringing up contentious issues which they have been rejected in the past. “The Indian negotiating team has returned without anything much on the table. We are still evaluating the situation and working on issues raised by the EU. The FTA is unlikely to happen before the next months India-EU summit and even this year itself. Negotiations are stuck on some contentious issues and till there is any movement on them, things will stand where they are,” a senior official of the Commerce Ministry said.

Officials said the EU had been insisting on India to be stricter with intellectual property protection standards, a move that could adversely impact the pharmaceutical industry.

On its part, India has been insisting, through its negotiators and also whenever Commerce Minister Anand Sharma has met his EU counterparts, that it wants more job opportunities for its professionals. It wants travel restrictions on the movement of its professionals to be eased within the EU. EU has been pressing for greater access to Indian markets with fewer taxes imposed. The India-EU summit is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on October 24. Other contentious issues include social issues such as environment and labour standards where India has refused to budge.

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