While seeking a good package for the IT industry, including allowing flexible movement of IT professionals, India has made it clear to the European Union (EU) that it cannot go beyond the parameters of the TRIPS (Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement and its laws for Intellectual Property Regime (IPR) in the ongoing negotiations for a trade and investment agreement.
The Indian position was conveyed by Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma, who led a high-level Indian delegation during negotiations in Brussels on April 15 for a ministerial dialogue with EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht on the ongoing India-European Union Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) talks.
Stating that the negotiations had gained momentum in the light of talks between the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, last week, Mr. Sharma underscored the importance of getting a good package on services, including declared interests in IT and movement of Indian professionals. “The April 15 meeting was less aimed at trade talks but more directed at conveying a political message about the importance of concluding this agreement at the earliest,” a senior official, who was part of the talks, said.
Officials, who were privy to the negotiations from the Indian side, said India impressed upon the EU negotiators on the need to declare India a data-secure country. At the same time, both sides sought a complete understanding on a balanced package in the services sector. Mr. Sharma also highlighted the issue of market access for agricultural products, pharmaceuticals and textiles.
The EU side strongly pitched for concessions in the financial services, including opening up of the insurance sector for foreign direct investment (FDI) from the present 26 per cent to 49 per cent. The EU side was also forthright in conveying to the Indian side its strong interest in the automobile sector, where it was demanding dismantling of duties, working on putting in place a stable taxation regime for wines and spirits and access for dairy products. The EU negotiators also sought an assurance on the facilitation of registration of their Geographical Indicators.
Both sides termed the talks as positive and moving in the right direction and decided to hold the next ministerial in June. It was felt by both sides that after the meeting of Dr. Singh and German Chancellor and the recent high-level dialogue with President François Hollande of France and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, the need for demonstrating pragmatism was underlined to conclude an ambitious and balanced agreement. The candid discussion between the leaders covered all the elements of the package. A clear understanding was reached that a fine balance needs to be arrived at for meaningful expectations of market access on both the sides. “We look forward to renewed progress in the coming months,” said John Clancy, spokesman for the EU Trade Commissioner, a report by AFP said.
India and EU began the FTA talks in 2007 but have not been able to reach an agreement almost six years into the negotiations.