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EU-India FTA by March 2011

world Updated: Dec 10, 2010 00:53 IST
Varghese K George
Varghese K George
Hindustan Times
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Negotiations between India and the European Union (EU) for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are on track and expected to be concluded by March-April 2010, said government sources.

In the last few days, some contentious issues such as transit rights for Indian-origin generic drugs through European ports have been resolved, the source said. EU will amend its customs regulations to this effect and the decision is likely to be announced during the India-EU summit on 10th December.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is in Brussels to attend the summit.

Seizure of Indian generic drug during transit in European ports where the particular product may still be patent-protected has become a serious pinprick in trade relations between India and EU.

Union commerce minister Anand Sharma and his EU counterpart will present a status report on the ongoing negotiations. The delay in concluding the negotiations – the FTA was to be signed during the summit – has been caused by the financial crisis that hit Europe this year.

Finding common ground on the intellectual property related issues remain a bugbear in the negotiations as both sides, their respective civil societies and NGOs have strong views on it, said the sources. However, it has been agreed that India will not have any TRIPS-plus intellectual property commitments. “The FTA will be compliant with existing domestic laws and international agreements already entered into as far as IPR is concerned,” the source said.

Movement of people – another contentious issue given the implication it will have on domestic employment in Europe – is back on the agenda and a breakthrough is possible, said the source. Agriculture is the other sector that still remains contested over questions such as public procurement.