PM Modi skeds a high-profile visit to France after India-EU Summit in Portugal
India and the European Union are expected to signal the start of negotiations for a broad-based trade and investment agreement (BBTIA) at the Portugal Summit on May 8. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the India-EU summit at Lisbon before he flies to France for a high-profile bilateral visit, people familiar with the matter said.
Technical negotiations on the trade agreement, which is also being pursued by external affairs minister S Jaishankar at a diplomatic level, will begin between April 9 and 19. There is a possibility of a meeting between commerce minister Piyush Goyal and EU executive vice president and commissioner for trade Valdis Dombrovskis later this month-end. The date for the Goyal-Dombrovskis meeting is still to be decided, EU diplomats said.
Despite India being one of the largest trade partners of the EU, the trade negotiations, which began in 2007, have been sluggish in the past with differences over tariff levels of wines and spirits, auto components, small cars and data security. “However, both sides have shown more accommodation this time and are willing to have a positive view towards exports from both blocks,” said a senior official.
The EU will be under pressure to complete the trade deal with India since India is expected to sign a bilateral trade agreement with post-Brexit Britain during UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to New Delhi on April 26.
PM Modi, who will travel to Portugal for the India-EU Summit being held under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, will continue on the second leg of his tour to France for a bilateral visit. Maritime security will be the heart of his summit-level talks with French President Emmanuel Macron.
While the broad agenda of the bilateral visit to France will be finalised during the two-day visit of foreign minister Jean Yves Le Drian to India beginning April 12, both countries are expected to impart a new meaning to defence and security cooperation apart from the political synergy in multilateral platforms. Diplomatic advisor to President Macron, Emmanuel Bonne is also deeply involved in the bilateral exercise with a special focus on acquiring new capabilities and the latest technologies to counter any aggression in the Indo-Pacific.