The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 24 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Push for EU trade pact

New Delhi, Jan. 23: Negotiations on the India-EU free trade agreement have reached a crucial stage, and a summit meeting of leaders next month will provide the final political push for the deal.

“We expect the deal to be signed this year… the summit next month will give the political push for the deal…this would result in the finer details being put in place in the next few months,” Joao Cravinho, ambassador of the European Union to India, told The Telegraph.

He said there was substantial progress on several issues, and the pact would open the Indian and the European markets for trade in goods, services and investment.

Cravinho said there had been “significant movement” in negotiations on wines and automobiles, which the EU had been emphasising.

Whisky and other wines and spirits now face a 150 per cent import duty and the EU negotiators have been demanding a reduction in duty.

While the EU had sought a 20 per cent tariff, sources said taxes would not be less than 40 per cent. In return, India expects to see easier access to markets for agricultural produce, textiles, and relaxed rules on work permits for its IT workers.

The EU ambassador said the automobile sector in Europe would also get a fillip from the negotiations.

Sources indicated that high-end luxury cars could get cheaper with the conclusion of the free trade pact. Imported luxury cars have a basic duty of 60 per cent plus countervailing duties that take the total tariff burden to over 100 per cent. The pact could cut the basic duty to 30 per cent.