Non-trade issues not to hamper trade talks with EU

Asserting that India and EU talks on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) were on track, European Union (EU) delegation head and Ambassador Danielle Smadja on Tuesday said differences over child labour and environmental issues would not hamper the conclusion of the trade agreement between the two countries.

At the same time, she sought to assure that the proposed FTA negotiations with India would not affect production of cheap life saving medicines in the country. “In the intellectual property rights (IPR) chapter of the proposed FTA, it will be made clear that there should be no limit on India's capacity to produce and export life-saving medicines,” Ms. Danielle Smadja said here.

She was responding to the question of protests by international non-government organisations against the negative consequences of the proposed India-EU FTA for procurement and export of cheaper generic Indian medicines to developing countries in Latin America and Africa. The EU Ambassador also hinted at a compromise being worked out between India and the 27-nation bloc on the contentious issue of environment and labour issues in the proposed free trade pact that has been hanging fire for three years. While the 27-nation bloc EU wants to include non-trade issues such as environment and child labour in the proposed market-opening pact, New Delhi maintains that these extraneous issues should be discussed at appropriate international fora and not in a trade agreement.

“Both EU member-states and the EU Parliament are very eager to find some sort of a language about these issues in the agreement. We know what is India's position. We are hearing those positions very clearly,”' she said.

India and its largest trading partner, EU, have been negotiating the market-opening pact since June 2007 to give a boost to their bilateral commerce of around $82 billion. Ms. Smadja said the Union was attached to these issues as they were of public concerns. “They are policy issues that need to be addressed. We need to continue discussing these issues,” she added. Despite the fact that there were several issues to be ironed out, both the sides are aiming to conclude the FTA talks by October-end during the Indo-EU Summit.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 1:10:24 PM |

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