New Delhi, Jan 18 (PTI) Some “ballast” in the India-EU relationship would be missing without pacts on free trade, investment and geographical indications, a senior MEA official said on Tuesday, ruing the delay in the launch of negotiations on an FTA between the two sides.

Speaking at a webinar titled ‘Harnessing the potential of India-EU ties’, Sandeep Chakravorty, MEA, Joint Secretary, Europe West Division, pointed out that the India-UK free trade agreement negotiations have been launched recently and the pact should be ready by the end of the year or early next year.

“As you know the leaders had mandated us to start the negotiations but I am slightly disheartened that we have not been able to start the negotiations for India-EU FTA,” he said.

“More or less at the same time we had the India-UK summit, there also it was decided to start the negotiations for the free trade agreement and you may have noticed that the India-UK free trade agreement negotiations were launched just last week,” he said.

He noted that there has not been much forward movement on the FTA with the EU.

“I think there is a lot of political will. Earlier this year we had a conversation between our PM and the new German Chancellor and there was a lot of expression of will. I think the two teams need to now start negotiating without too many preconditions because I think if you set too many preconditions, by the time you meet the preconditions, a new set of preconditions arises,” Chakravorty said.

He underlined India’s deep interest in starting the FTA negotiations with the EU.

“If the EU could announce its negotiator and have the first preliminary meetings it would be very good…without that trade, investment and geographical indications agreements, some ballast in the relationship is missing,” he asserted.

The webinar was organised by the French Embassy during which the French envoy to India Emmanuel Lenain highlighted the priorities France would have in its six month tenure as the president of the Council of the EU that began on January 1.

EU’s envoy to India Ugo Astuto hoped for deepening of the India-EU relationship, underlining that there was a lot of potential yet untapped.

Last year in May, India and the European Union (EU) had announced their decision to resume negotiations for a balanced and comprehensive trade agreement after a gap of eight years and unveiled an ambitious connectivity partnership, during a virtual meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders of 27 member nations of the bloc.

It was also decided to launch negotiations on two other key agreements on investment protection and geographical indications. PTI ASK TIR TIR

Source: ThePrint