India is hopeful of concluding a comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) in the near future, as the negotiations are in advanced stage with the 27-nation bloc.
"We are in the final stage...We were hoping to achieve it this year and I remain hopeful that we will able to do it within the next few months," Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said on Thursday.
India is in talks with the EU, its biggest trading partner, since June 2007 for liberalising trade in goods, services and investment through a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA). Already 13 rounds of talks have taken place.
The FTA would involve slashing of duties on over 90% of the trade and opening up of the mutual markets for services and investment.
Officials from both sides have remained engaged in resolving differences on key issues like opening up of markets in auto and auto components, wines and spirits, and intellectual property rights and services.
The two-way commerce stood at $75 billion in 2009-10. India has already implemented comprehensive FTAs with countries like Japan, Malaysia and South Korea.