Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Monday said negotiations on the India-EU broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) had been intensified and were in the final stages with the aim to conclude them in 2011.

“The India-EU BTIA negotiations are in their final leg. Thirteen rounds of negotiations have been held so far. A meeting of Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar and EU's Director General (Trade) was held last month in London. Both sides have intensified the negotiations with a view to closing negotiations in 2011,'' Mr. Sharma said in a statement issued here after his bilateral meeting with the visiting Polish Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski.

A statement issued by the Commerce Ministry said current negotiations cover trade in goods, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures and technical barriers to trade, trade in services, investment, intellectual property rights and geographical indications (GIs), competition policy, customs and trade facilitation, trade defence, dispute settlement, government procurement and sustainable development.

During the meeting, Mr. Sharma impressed upon his Polish counterpart that issues related to India-Poland bilateral trade and investment could not be isolated from the general issues which relate to the EU and India. “As Presidency of the EU, Poland can play an important role in resolving several of our market access issues with the EU including in respect of arbitrary SPS standards; CCC in grapes; honey, rice, fish and fishery products,'' he added. The EU is India's largest trading partnerand the bilateral trade aggregated $75 billion in 2009-10.

Commerce Ministry officials said Indian agriculture exports to the EU faced several problems on account of use of some chemicals to preserve the products. Last year, European authorities had rejected Indian grape and honey consignments over the issue of presence of a chemical and heavy metals in the products.

On bilateral trade, Mr. Sharma said the two-way commerce stood at $771 million during the three quarters of 2010-11. Poland is a major supplier of railway equipment, axles and rails, turbines and diesel engines to India. Indian exports to Poland include transport equipment, machinery, pharmaceuticals and chemicals and textiles. Imports include coke and coal, machinery and equipment, iron and steel, machine tools, chemicals and project goods.

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