Replying to the European Union’s (EU’s) apprehensions over India’s intent towards the bilateral trade and investment agreement (BTIA), minister of state for commerce Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday reasserted that the country was keen to resume talks.
On Wednesday, EU ambassador Tomasz Kozlowski had said that the union was very much interested to strike a free-trade agreement (FTA) with India, but it was not ready to resume talks.
The minister, who was chairing a meeting with experts on trade on Thursday, said that after returning from the India-EU Summit in Brussels, she wrote a letter to her EU counterpart (trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom) seeking dates to meet the chief negotiators of the BTIA.
The India-EU FTA was conceptualised in June 2007 but the negotiations are stuck as both the sides are yet to resolve crucial issues such as intellectual property rights, duties on automobile and spirits, and a liberal visa regime.
India has some other pending FTA’s as well, including with Australia and Canada.
On the Australia FTA, Sitharaman said both sides have gone into all the details. “I would like to believe that we are close to concluding the talks,” she said.
Meanwhile, the commerce minister also said that the national intellectual property rights (IPR) policy will soon be taken up by the cabinet for consideration. “We are taking it up. In fact it has already reached the cabinet secretariat. I hope it will come on the agenda of the cabinet soon,” she said.