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India, EU whittle green channel

Both sides exchange lists identifying hundreds of products that will be kept out of a free trade pact they began negotiating over a year ago, reports Gaurav Choudhury.

business Updated: Feb 03, 2008 21:06 IST
Gaurav Choudhury

The European Union and India have exchanged lists identifying hundreds of products that will be kept out of a free trade pact they began negotiating over a year ago. The EU list includes 226 products and the Indian note 500. These initial lists of products that either side considers in need of protection from global competitive forces are subject to negotiation.

Chemicals and petrochemical products like salts and polyesters, and glass, ceramic and crystal make up the bulk of the EU list, which also includes goods made of porcelain and milk products. Details of the Indian list were not available.

The commerce ministry has sought comments from various export groups and government departments to negotiate on items that have strong export potential from India. "It is important to identify items of our export interest and justify their removal from the ‘negative’ list," said a commerce ministry official who did not want to be named.

Also, India has said it does not want non-trade issues such as animal welfare and labour standards to be included in the talks for a free trade agreement. The EU, on the other hand, wants more transparency in state procurement and trade facilitation. Indian exporters are apprehensive of an EU regulation called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Substances) that could prevent market access for chemical items in Europe.

"Under this regulation, each and every chemical to be imported into the EU has to be registered in advance and involves a high registration cost," said an official at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. India is keen to wrap up the trade talks with the EU within the next year.