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EU presses India to extend trade pacts with EU nations, also expressed concerns over Kashmir issue

EU presses India to extend trade pacts with EU nations, also expressed concerns over Kashmir issue

New Delhi: The European Union on Monday pressed India to extend by six months its bilateral investment pacts with several EU-member countries which are expiring soon,saying absence of the treaties could adversely impact tradeties and FTA talks.

A high-level European Parliament delegation, in New Delhi togauge India’s views about the Trump administration and discussvarious key issues concerning India-EU ties, also expressedconcern over situation in Jammu and Kashmir and called forimprovement in ties between India and Pakistan.

Chair of the EU delegation for relations with IndiaGeoffrey Van Orden said EU wants New Delhi to renew theinvestment deals first to take forward the stalled FTA talks.”It will be helpful if trade and investment pacts can beextended for six months. The issue has become a problem forthe FTA talks,” he told reporters.

India’s existing trade and investment pacts with TheNetherlands have come to an end in November while whilesimilar pacts with several other EU countries will expire inthe coming months.

Orden said expiry of the pacts will make it difficult forthe European countries to go for fresh investments in India,adding the EU want India to first give the extension to thepacts and then move ahead with the FTA which is known as EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).

On Kashmir, he said EU is always sensitive about issues relating to human rights violations, adding certain forces do not want India-Pakistan relations to improve.

He said there ware “serious problem” of Pakistan containing terrorists and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had showed his resolve to improve ties with Islamabad. Orden said the aim of the delegation is to understand India’s views on the Trump administration, discuss issues relating to Pakistan and matters concerning India-EU ties.

The delegation is meeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh during which the issues are likely to be flagged.

The BTIA talks have been stalled since May, 2013, whenboth sides failed to bridge substantial gaps on crucialissues, including data security status for IT sector.

Launched in June 2007, negotiations for the proposed agreement have witnessed many hurdles as both the sides havemajor differences on crucial issues.

In the EU-India Summit in Brussels, the two sides had failed to make any announcement on resumption of the negotiations as many bottlenecks still remain.

The two sides are yet to iron out issues related to tariff and movement of professionals but the EU has shown aninclination to restart talks.

Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, the EU wants tax reduction in wines, spirits and dairyproducts, and a strong intellectual property regime.

On the other hand, India is asking for granting ‘datasecure nation’ status to it by the EU. The country is amongnations not considered data secure by the EU. The matter is crucial as it will have a bearing on Indian IT companies wanting market access.

PTI