After years of tough negotiations, trade officials of India and the European Union have thrashed out the contours of a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) expected to be inked by the end of the year.
Talks hit a roadblock after the 29-nation EU insisted that India adhere to its stringent sanitary measures to allow free movement of agricultural products.
Many Indian products have been rejected because of health-related safeguards. For instance, Indian liquor has faced resistance on the ground that the water that goes into it may not be safe.
India has also resisted European attempts to link labour standards to trade issues. A final ministerial review on the FTA will be held in Brussels in November, officials said.
Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma, who is heading a Federation of Indian Chambers and Commerce and Industry (FICCI) delegation to Germany, told reporters that most of the contentious issues have now been addressed and at least an in-principle pact was due soon.
Rajan Bharti Mittal, president, FICCI said the FTA was expected to be inked by December.
(The writer’s travel and stay has been paid for by FICCI)