India and the EU will hold their long-pending summit in the first half of next year and resume negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) as both sides attempt to bring the relationship back on track.
Newly-appointed ambassador of the European Union, Tomasz Kozlowski, said the EU’s wanted to be part of India’s projects such as the development of smart cities and the Clean Ganga mission.
FTA talks between the two sides will be held in January in Brussels as both India and the EU are set to open a “new page” in their ties, the envoy said.
“The summit meeting will be held in the first half of 2016. We are working on mutually convenient dates for the summit,” Kozlowski told reporters, as he described India as an engine of growth of the global economy.
“We are now set open a new page in our ties,” he said, adding the two sides were also finalising a pact to facilitate better movement of people from India to EU and vice versa.
The EU has been India’s largest trading partner and two-way commerce stood at $101.5 billion (£68bn) in 2013-14.
The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from the EU to India from April 2012 to May 2015 was $24.9 million (£16.6m). In 2014-15, that figure was $8.2m while in 2013-14, it was $9m.
Welcoming Modi’s initative to inject new momentum in India’s economic growth, Kozlowski said both sides were not far from finalising the FTA which will boost two-way trade and ensure better regulation.
Bilateral talks, launched in June 2007, remain stuck as both sides are not satisfied with each other’s offers.
The last India-EU summit took place in 2012; however ties were strained after the 28-member bloc did not respond to New Delhi’s proposal for a brief visit by prime minister Narendra Modi to Brussels, the EU headquarters, during his trip to France, Germany and Canada in April.
Also, the EU this year restricted the sale of around 700 generic drugs clinically tested by India’s GVK Biosciences.
In the summer, after a gap of about two years, the chief negotiators of India and the EU were expected to resume negotiations on August 28, but India deferred the talks after the EU imposed a ban on around 700 pharma products clinically tested by GVK Biosciences.
The envoy said the EU had not banned Indian drugs; instead the issue was about testing and certification.
Now, he, said both Indian exporters and European importers managed certification for the drugs from other agencies and it was no more an issue.
Sources said the “stock taking” FTA talks will be held in New Delhi on January 18.
Asked about an Indian court’s decision to restrict plying of diesel vehicles and its impact on the European auto industry (which has a huge market in India), Kozlowski said.“It is in the spirit of what we agreed at the Paris climate conclave.
“It’s a welcome move to protect the environment. (Companies) must follow the standards set by Indian authorities.”