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FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo (REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo (REUTERS)

India and European Union can soon begin dialogue on free trade pact

India and the EU started talks on a free trade pact in 2007 but negotiations were stalled in 2013 and efforts to resume the negotiations since have not succeeded

NEW DELHI : India and the European Union could soon begin talks on restarting dialogue on a long pending free trade pact with a senior Indian official saying that the bloc’s trade commissioner had written to his Indian counterpart on having a meeting.

Sandeep Chakravarty, joint secretary in charge of Europe West in the Indian foreign ministry, told reporters on Thursday that “there is forward movement" on the two sides agreeing to reopen talks. The official was speaking after a virtual summit between the prime ministers of India and Luxemburg on Thursday, the first in almost two decades.

Chakravarty recalled that India and the EU had agreed to set up a high level mechanism to explore the possibility of restarting talks on the pact when Indian and EU leaders met for their summit in July.

“The EU did not have a trade commissioner for sometime now. Now there is a new trade commissioner. He has written to our honourable Commerce and Industry Minister (Piyush Goyal) and discussions are on, on soon having a meeting of the high level mechanism," he said.

“In fact today the sub commission on India-EU trade has met and there is forward movement and as soon as the dates of the meeting are discussed, this mechanism will take on the task of starting negotiations," he said.

India and the EU started talks on a free trade pact in 2007 but negotiations were stalled in 2013 and efforts to resume the negotiations since have not succeeded.

During the summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Luxemburg counterpart Xavier Bettel, the two sides “exchanged views on strengthening India-Luxembourg relationship in the post-covid world, especially in the areas of financial technology, green financing, space applications, digital innovations and start-ups," an Indian foreign ministry statement said.

The two sides “welcomed the conclusion of various agreements between the two countries, including those between their financial market regulators, stock exchanges and innovation agencies," it said.

According to Chakravarty, Bettel “asked prime minister Modi to encourage Indian companies to raise capital for environment friendly green projects" through the Luxemburg stick exchanges. The tiny European country was one of the largest sources of portfolio investments into India, he said.

“Foreign portfolio investments from Luxemburg total more than 3 lakh crore after US and Mauritius Luxemburg is third largest" source of portfolio investments, he said.

“Many Indian companies have GDRs (Global Depositary Receipts) in Luxemburg," the Indian official said adding that Indian companies had raised more than $12- 13 billion dollars.

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