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Sixth summit to be significant milestone

The Summit is significant because it is the first time being held in India after the expansion of the EU and the signing of the India-EU Strategic Partnership.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2005 10:31 IST

A European Union-India strategic partnership action plan, which will guide the two sides to further deepen relations, would be unveiled at the forthcoming Sixth India-EU summit on September 7.

"EU-India action plan for strategic partnership would be unveiled at the summit, which will serve as a road map for further deepening bilateral relations," Stefano Gatto, First Counsellor, Delegation of European Commission said at a CII-FICCI briefing on the first summit after EU's 10-member enlargement in May 2004.

He said there was a tremendous potential for further increasing bilateral trade, which is all set to reach the targeted milestone of $35 billion in 2005.

The Summit is significant because it is the first time being held in India after the expansion of the EU and the signing of the India-EU Strategic Partnership, said N Srinivasan, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

He was speaking at a press conference to announce the Summit organised jointly by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the Delegation of the European Commission (EC) and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Srinivasan said the summit would focus on the four sectors of Indian industry that were expanding their global footprints through overseas investments as well as exports. These sectors were Manufacturing, Information Technology, Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology.

Srinivasan said the Summit would be a forum to resolve important bilateral trade and investment issues including non-tariff barriers and matters related to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The other issues likely to be discussed at the Summit were trade defence rules, lack of harmonisation of rules across the European Union (EU) and facilitating business travel.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Amit Mitra, Secretary General, FICCI, said an expanded EU offered Indian companies an expanded playing field. India's trade with the new EU member countries, though an insignificant $750 million, was growing at 41 per cent annually. These countries offered excellent scope for further expansion of trade and investment.

Dr Mitra said EU was India's largest trading partner. Bilateral trade in 2003-04 was $29 billion, a 17 per cent growth over the previous year. A fifth of India's trade was with the EU. Within the EU, Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg, the UK and Italy accounted for nearly three-fourths of the total trade.

Dr Mitra said knowledge had become an important driver of the synergy between India and EU. However, there was a need to resolve certain issues such as the need for a protocol on transfer of genetic material to give biotechnology a boost. "Furthering of trade depends on policy initiatives, removing trade barriers and benchmarking standards," he added.

Stefano Gatto, First Counsellor (Trade and Economic Affairs), Delegation of EC, said the India-EU Summit provides a forum where businessmen from both sides can share problems and make recommendations. Answering questions, he said, "This summit follows a similar event in China. This is unprecedented as it indicates the European businessmen are equally interested in both India and China."

Gatto said there was a possibility that the business leaders' roundtable would become a permanent feature of future summits, to follow up strategic partnerships. This business summit assumed added importance as it was being held along with a political summit.

The Summit, to be held in New Delhi on September 7, 2005, would have Mr Kamal Nath, Minister for Commerce and Industry, Mr Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, UK, and Mr Peter Mandelson, Commissioner for External Trade, EU, addressing the opening plenary. This would be followed by technical sessions on infrastructure, manufacturing, services and financial services as well as information technology, education and health care.

There would be a Business Leaders Roundtable where 40 delegates from both sides would discuss crucial issues that need to be resolved to increase bilateral trade and investment. The closing plenary would be addressed by Tony Blair, Prime Minister, Great Britain and President of EU, Jose Manuel Baruso, President, European Commission, and Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India.

First Published: Sep 06, 2005 10:31 IST