‘Let the committee deliberate on the issues raised first’

Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce Shanta Kumar wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday, asking him to put off signing of the India-EU free trade agreement (FTA) till the committee deliberates on the issues raised before it.

In the letter, which was authorised by the Parliamentary Standing Committee during its meeting on Thursday, Mr. Shanta Kumar stated that, in view of many issues and concerns raised by the various States, NGOs and stakeholders, it would be appropriate to defer signing of the India-EU FTA.

“I have urged him that serious doubts have been raised over the fallout of the various decisions likely to be taken in the FTA. We have said the country could continue to negotiate the FTA but it should refrain from signing it till all doubts are cleared on protecting of interests of the country,” Mr. Kumar told The Hindu here.

The Prime Minister is currently on a visit to Germany and deliberations on the India-EU FTA top his agenda. The negotiations have hit a roadblock after EU demanded that India provide free access to the automobile industry of Europe, especially Germany, hike the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in insurance to 49 per cent, open up the financial sector through more reforms and lower taxes on wines and spirits.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, is accompanying the Prime Minister. He will be visiting Brussels on April 15 to hold a ministerial round of negotiations with EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht to work out the differences that had cropped up during the negotiations between the two sides last month.

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