Seeking enhanced economic engagement with India, Germany’s Ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, has sought to remove ‘obstacles’ coming in the way of clinching the India-EU free trade agreement (FTA).

“There are obstacles in the path. We need to remove these. We want the treaty to happen. We want the FTA to be done by early next year. For that, both sides have to work very hard. India needs to work on certain issues, including trade tariff barriers especially on cars and also in the insurance sector. We want the FDI limit in insurance hiked to 49 per cent from the present 26 per cent,’’ Mr. Steiner told The Hindu.

Acknowledging that the India-EU FTA would not happen this year, Mr. Steiner said a lot needs to be done to send out a message about readiness to engage. “AIG of Germany is a big company. It is ready to engage with India but for that steps are needed to send out a positive message of economic engagement,” he added.

On the issue of cars, Mr. Steiner said: “we don’t want India to lower import duties in one go. We want to do it step-by-step. In fact, it is the other way around. India sells more cars and automotive parts in Europe. India has compulsions, and it cannot open the markets immediately. But a time period needs to be set to lower trade barriers and bring them down to zero level especially for cars.

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