In new roadmap for India-EU trade deal, 2024 is the deadline to conclude talks

Published on Apr 29, 2022 06:38 PM IST

EU’s investment bank, European Investment Bank (EIB) plans to double its annual investments in India from the current level of about €500 million within the next two years.

The proposed deal figured in European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s engagements with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during her visit earlier this month (ANI File Photo)
The proposed deal figured in European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s engagements with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during her visit earlier this month (ANI File Photo)

NEW DELHI: India and the European Union (EU) are looking to conclude negotiations on comprehensive trade and investment agreements before the beginning of electoral cycles on both sides in 2024, EU ambassador Ugo Astuto said on Friday.

As the two sides broaden and deepen their economic cooperation, the European Investment Bank (EIB), which is the lending arm of the EU, intends to double its annual investments in India from the current level of about €500 million in the next two years.

The Indian and EU leadership decided last year to resume negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA), which had stalled in 2013, and to launch talks on agreements on investments and geographical indications. The two sides agreed on a framework for these talks when commerce secretary BVR Subrahmanyam visited Brussels earlier this month.

Astuto said the two sides have agreed on parameters and a roadmap for negotiations on a trade deal. “The first round of talks will be held in June and we hope to have a couple of round of talks before the end of the year,” he told a small group of reporters.

The two sides are hoping to conclude the negotiations before the start of the next electoral cycle for India and the EU in 2024, Astuto said. He set aside speculation that the two sides could have an interim trade deal before finalising a full-fledged agreement, saying: “Both sides are aiming at a broad, comprehensive and ambitious FTA.”

India is slated to have its next general election in 2024, while the first elections to the European Parliament following Britain’s exit from the EU will be held the same year. India is also negotiating an FTA with the UK and both sides have set a target of concluding the talks by October.

The proposed trade deal also figured in European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s recent engagements with the Indian leadership in New Delhi.

EIB vice president Christian Kettel Thomsen said the EU’s investment bank plans to double its annual investments in India from the current level of about €500 million within the next two years. He said this target is “doable” and dovetails with the EU’s ambitions related to the trade deal with India.

With the EU’s current focus on green energy to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, EIB will also focus on green and sustainable projects in India, officials of the bank said. EIB’s annual investments total €60 billion and half of this amount is targeted toward climate mitigation.

Many of EIB’s initiatives are aligned with EU’s new Global Gateway initiative launched last year to boost smart, clean and secure links in the digital, energy and transport sectors. Global Gateway plans to mobilise €300 billion in investments between 2021 and 2027.

In India, EIB has invested €3.1 billion in the metro projects in Agra, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Kanpur, Lucknow and Pune. This includes €650 million for the Kanpur metro project, the bank’s second-largest loan outside the EU. EIB has accepted an invitation to join the India-led Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and is also looking to work with the International Solar Alliance on projects in Africa.

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