The India-European Union Free Trade Agreement, under negotiations for the last three years, is expected to be finalised by the end of this year, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said on Thursday.

“In the last India-E.U. summit, a mandate was given that we should conclude it (FTA) this year. I am very optimistic that we — both me and the E.U. Trade Commissioner — will be able to report positively in the next summit,” he said here.

Mr. Sharma said this while participating in a panel discussion, which included British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Negotiators from the two sides have held several rounds of talks and are trying to resolve certain issues, including the insistence of some E.U. members to include non-trade issues such as environmental concerns and child labour, in the pact. However, India has been opposed to this.

India has been negotiating the market-opening pact with the E.U., its largest trading partner, since June 2007. The India-E.U. bilateral trade was valued at $82 billion in the last fiscal.

The two sides want to remove trade barriers in goods and services and investments across all sectors of the economy.

According to a Ficci-Grant Thornton report, bilateral trade is expected to exceed Euro 70.7 billion ($91.4 billion) by 2010 and Euro 160.6 billion ($207.6 billion) by 2015.

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