India-EU Trade Agreement expected to be ready early 2011

India-EU Trade Agreement expected to be ready early 2011

New Delhi: An ambitious Trade and Investment Agreement between India and European Union that could help in increasing bilateral trade by about 40% to touch €100 billion is expected to be finalised early next year.

“Negotiations are progressing well and we are hopeful of concluding the agreement in early 2011," Vive Katju, secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry, told newsmen today.

Katju was briefing newsmen on the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Brussels and Berlin.

Singh leaves for the Belgian Capital on Thursday to attend the 11th India-European Union(Summit) the next day. He will be in Berlin on Saturday for summit talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before returning home on Sunday.

The bilateral trade in goods and services in 2009 was around €53 billion. The EU economic bloc comprises 27 countries.

“The Broad-Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) will give a fillip to bilateral trade which could increase to €100 billion," Katju said.

Katju refused to be drawn into a discussion over a delay in wrapping up the Free Trade talks this year itself or any contentious issues between the two sides.

The pact was to have been originally concluded to coincide with Singh’s visit to Brussels for the summit.

“The Free Trade pact was originally supposed to have been finalised at the Brussels summit. But it is taking a longer time than expected," German ambassador Thomas Matussek told reporters yesterday.

Intellectual property rights and social issues like environment and labour standards are reported to be among some critical issues where the negotiations have got stuck.