The Telegraph
Saturday , January 18 , 2014
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EU trade pact nears conclusion

New Delhi, Jan. 17: The long-pending trade pact between India and the European Union could be inked by the end of this year or early next year, EU ambassador to India Joao Cravinho said.

“We will have an FTA (free trade agreement) this year or early 2015 as the differences that still remain are very small. The first half of this year would be taken over by the changes at the political level both in India and the EU,” Cravinho said.

Most of the issues have been resolved over the past seven years of bilateral negotiations. The text of the agreement remains to be finalised.

Although Cravinho did not elaborate on the differences, he indicated that India would benefit from increased market access in the services sector and the EU would be able to get some concessions on automobile, wine and spirits.

India wants the EU to provide greater market access in the services and pharmaceutical sectors, data security status for its IT sector and liberalised visa norms for its professionals. The EU, in turn, is pressing hard for reforms in banking & insurance, wines & spirits, intellectual property regime, automobile and public procurement sectors.

Cravinho said there had been a substantial progress in the government procurement issue. The EU is likely to agree to an access to procurements made by the Centre alone because New Delhi cannot force the states to open up this segment.