There is little chance that the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the European Union (EU) would be signed before or at the India-EU summit to be held in New Delhi in February next year, a top German official said.
The negotiations for signing the treaty, on for three years, were “painfully slow’’ and the Indian government was “hesitating’’, said Berend Diekmann, head of division, external economic policy, German government on Tuesday.
Diekmann said the EU bloc and India were “far far away’’ from reaching an agreement on the FTA. Both sides have locked horns over the issue of high tariffs on automobiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, machinery products, procurement policy, agriculture and wines and spirits.
At present, EU has FTA only with South Korea while India has already entered into FTAs with at least half-a-dozen countries.
“At present, progress of talks has not been satisfying at all. We are not hopeful of signing the FTA anywhere in the near future,’’ said the German official, an economist by training.
Diekmann said the Indian government was hesitating to open up the market and bring down tariffs on automobiles and other major products.
He said India had agreed to bring down tariffs on high end automobiles from the present 60% to 30% and further to 20% after five years.
For small cars, India had proposed bringing down tariffs to 50% from the present 60% and after five years to 40%. These proposals were not acceptable to the EU negotiators who are demanding cuts in tariffs on automobiles and wines and spirits.
On its part, India has been demanding that the EU should without any hindrances allow the free movement of professionals within the 27-nation bloc.