India, EU eye free trade pact by 2008-end | business | Hindustan Times
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India, EU eye free trade pact by 2008-end

business Updated: Nov 29, 2007 20:53 IST
Gaurav Choudhury

India on Thursday told the European Union (EU) that it is keen on inking the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) within the next one-year. It also unequivocally stated that the Doha round of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) can be concluded only if developed nations, particularly the United States, reduced farm subsidies.

"Tell your American friends that India will not negotiate on subsistence farming. I have told them (the US) that we will have a deal if they reduce subsidies even by a dollar. But there has been no response," Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said at the India-EU business summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said sensitivities of both sides need to be addressed and respected to conclude the Doha round.

"We are aware of the growing weight of the developing countries on Doha negotiations. We have to keep pushing for a successful Doha Round," Mandelson said.

"Indian economic growth was now an integral part of maintaining global economic demand and a mark of India's growing weight in the world. India is now an indispensable part of the global economic architecture," he said.

Mandelson argued that an ambitious India-EU FTA could boost both economies and shore up global demand if the world economy begins to cool. Nath said India was keen to conclude FTA with the EU by the end of 2008. "India is as ambitious for the FTA as is the European Union," he said.

India has stated that it does not want non-trade issues such as animal welfare and labour to be factored into the negotiations. EU, on the other hand, wants more transparency in public procurement and trade facilitation. "We would like to see openness in services and investment trade extended into government procurement in India," Mandelson said.