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India, EU to conclude trade, investment pacts simultaneously: Piyush Goyal

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Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday said India and the European Union (EU) will begin negotiations for separate bilateral trade and investment agreements simultaneously under a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement as investments are an area of the EU’s interest while India is keen to get more market access for its goods and services there. The minister said trade and investment go hand in hand, and the two sides are committed to conclude the two pacts together at an early date.

“We have decided to launch negotiations for a balanced, ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial agreement on trade and investment. These will be separate agreements and negotiated in parallel track simultaneously,” Goyal said at the EU-India Business Roundtable organised by CII.

ET had reported in January that keen to accelerate investments, technology and capital flows from the EU, New Delhi wants an investment deal and trade deal to happen parallelly and independently unlike earlier when the two were negotiating the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) whose negotiations were suspended in 2013.

“We are also committed to conclude them together at an early date,” Goyal said, adding that investment and trade go hand in hand.

As per the minister, the two sides must look at a comprehensive dialogue for a comprehensive FTA covering all the tracks of trade in goods and services, and investment protection.

“This will benefit both sides immensely,” he said.

On goods, Goyal said bilateral trade is balanced and complementary with a “highly diverse and technologically advanced” basket of goods. India’s key exports to the EU include engineering goods, ready made garments, gems and jewellery, and pharma while imports are medical devices, alcoholic beverages and aircraft.

Pandemic impact

Goyal said that India is going through a severe second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and ramping up production capacities.

“We are ramping up our vaccine production so that we can expand vaccination coverage to other countries across the world through high quality affordable vaccine and other medical supplies,” he said, appreciating the supply extended by Europe during the pandemic.


Reliable supplier


Goyal said that countries are looking for trusted trading partners amid the pandemic and given India’s track record, it will be the EU’s “most natural and reliable ally, partner and friend”.

Noting that high cost of production high in Europe but competitive and reasonable costs in India, give European business an opportunity to produce in India, he said: “We can create a win-win partnership”.

“As the world moves away from over-concentrated risky supply chains, I’d like to ensure that you can trust India to provide a multitude of investment and manufacturing opportunities,” he said, adding that by emphasising on global

quality and productivity standards, India is “looking at changing the entire landscape of a billion people to allign ourselves with the developed world”.

He said investments are protected in India and there is no compulsion for any company to transfer their technology when they come to India.

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