India-EU Summit 2017: Three key-pacts inked; both sides agree to strengthen trade and security ties

India and the European Union on Friday agreed to strengthen ties in key areas of trade and security after their 14th summit, during which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the top EU leadership deliberated extensively on bilateral, regional and international issues.

After the summit, European Council president Donald Franciszek Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker talked about the much-delayed trade pact between the two sides at a joint press event with Modi.

The two sides also inked three pacts, including one on an international solar alliance, after the summit.

The 28-nation bloc is India’s largest regional trading partner with bilateral trade in goods at $88 billion in 2016.

It is also the largest destination for Indian exports and a key source of investment and technologies.

India received around $83 billion of foreign direct investment from Europe between 2000 and 2017, constituting approximately 24 percent of total FDI inflows into the country during the period, said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

Free Trade Agreement

Despite the gaps in mutual expectation, the two sides appeared hopeful of ironing out their differences. Tusk, quoting Bengali poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore, said that its important for the two sides to swim in the same direction, despite their differences.

“Let me just make a political observation. Free and fair trade agreements are not only important for our companies and citizens to prosper, but above all they strengthen the rules based international order and our way of life. The democracies of the world can be the one to set ambitious global targets, but only if we cooperate. Rabindra Nath Tagore has said, ‘One cannot cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water’. I am confident that we can swim better for this important and strategic cause,” Tusk said.

Adding on to Tusk’s observation, European Commission president also said that Indian and the EU remain one of the largest trade partners. “Every year we exchange 100 Euro worth of goods and services, creating millions of services. We are also the loudest voices in free and fair trade an this message was reinforced in today’s discussion,” Juncker said.

Brexit not to affect India EU trade ties

Speaking of the trade commitments between India and EU, Juncker said that the two groups were a massive trade, accounting for mor than 13 percent of India’s global trade, EU is also the largest investor in India. The trading is alsmost perfectly balanced, with equal amounts of imports and exports on both sides. All this wil remain true beyond March 2019, when United Kingdom leaves the EU,” Juncker said.

India and the EU have been strategic partners since 2004. The 13th India-EU Summit was held in Brussels on 30 March last year during Modi’s visit. The summit last year failed to make any headway on the resumption of long stalled negotiations for a free trade agreement.

Launched in June 2007, negotiations for the proposed EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) have witnessed many hurdles with major differences on crucial issues like intellectual property rights, duty cut in automobile and spirits.

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