The Hindu Business Line

Awaiting dates from EU to negotiate FTA: Sitharaman

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India is waiting for dates from European Union to negotiate the long pending Free Trade Agreement as well as a fresh Bilateral Investment Treaty, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

“I am waiting for dates to talk about both (FTA and BIT),” she said at a function here organised by industry body FICCI.

The proposed Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) or FTA has been pending for long.

“We have repeatedly asked for dates for negotiatio­ns with the EU... This FTA has gone through several stages,” the minister said.

She indicated that the delay in resuming talks could be because EU is now looking more at getting the investment treaty “quickly done.”

The European Commission (EC) had raised concerns over negotiatio­ns for a fresh Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).

Sitharaman said the government has come out with the revised model text for BIT and all existing investment protection agreements will be null and void from March 31, “so we want countries to do that“.

Launched in June 2007, BITA negotiatio­ns have seen many hurdles with both sides having major difference­s on crucial issues like intellectu­al property rights, duty cuts in automobile as well as spirits and a liberal visa regime. On other FTAs which India

negotiatin­g, Sitharaman is sought feedback from industry chambers on those and ways to increase share of India in the global trade to 3.5 per cent by 2020 from about 2 per cent currently.

She also expressed concerns about the increasing protection­ism in the world.

“There is very high degree of protection­ism across the globe,” she said, adding India is opening up but in a calibrated manner.

Talking about quality and standards of products, she said Indian industry needs to increase standards and its compliance to boost its competitiv­eness in the world market.

 ??  ?? Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry
Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry

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