Industry chamber FICCI on Thursday asked the European Union not to bring in non-trade issues like child labour and environment in the proposed market opening pact between India and the 27-nation bloc.

In a meeting with new EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht here, the chamber reiterated its position that non-trade issues would be counter-productive for India-EU free trade agreement (FTA).

“Any attempt to link trade with social issues would prove counter-productive for the FTA. While we do not undermine the importance of non-trade issues per se, the point is they have to be addressed in appropriate forums,” FICCI President Rajan Bharti Mittal said in a statement.

Both Mr. Mittal and Mr. Gucht emphasised the need for concluding the pact by the end of this year, it said.

Talks for the FTA started in 2007 and the eighth round of negotiations was completed here in January.

FICCI also stressed for achieving significant progress towards removing or lowering the incidence of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) like packaging and labelling.

“In the absence of any effective resolution of NTBs faced by Indian exporters in EU market, there would not be any meaningful gain from the agreement,” the statement said.

India’s share in EU’s total merchandise trade is just 2 per cent, compared with China’s robust share of over 11 per cent, it said. India-EU trade was $82 billion in 2008-09.

More In: Business | Industry