India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning four trips to Europe this year as New Delhi and European Union (EU) are likely to sign trade and investment deals. Reports suggest his first visit will be to Lisbon in May, in connection with the EU Summit.
His second visit will be to the UK for the G-7 summit in June, followed by the G-20 Summit in Italy towards the end of October, and COP-26 in the UK in November. On February 5, the two sides had held the first India-EU high-level dialogue (HLD).
The virtual session was co-chaired by Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and European Commission Executive Vice-President and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis.
EU-India High-Level Dialogue on Trade & Investment held its first meeting on 5th Feb.
Both sides had open and constructive exchanges on a broad range of topics with the aim of enhancing 🇪🇺🇮🇳 bilateral trade and investment relations.
— EU in India (@EU_in_India) February 8, 2021
The two sides exchanged views on the possibility of opening new areas of cooperation, especially on the resilience of global value chains and regulatory mechanisms besides key market access issues.
The Economic Times reported quoting sources that both sides are planning to further deepen bilateral trade and investment relationship through a series of regular engagements, aiming at quick deliverables for businesses in these tough times.
European Commission’s official statement said that apart from discussing trade and investment, Dombrovskis and Goyal also discussed the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccine production, and distribution mechanisms, including value chain linkages.
In addition, the co-chairs discussed various important policy developments and market access issues and reviewed a selection of key market access issues to identify prospects for resolving them. They have asked their experts to look into the feasibility of resuming work on trade and investment agreements.
With this, the two sides have agreed to meet within the next three months, with an objective for reaching a consensus on different bilateral trade and investment cooperation issues including a bilateral regulatory dialogue.
In 2019, the EU was India’s largest trading partner at 80 billion euro worth of trade in goods, which was 11.1% of India’s total trade, on par with the US and ahead of China (10.7%). The figures make India an important trade and investment partner for the EU.
Meanwhile, experts are skeptical about the trade deal. Krishnan Srinivasan, a former Foreign Secretary, has written in The Hindu, that negotiations on investment and trade agreements with the European Union (EU) are likely to run into the same problems as the discussions that began on a comprehensive free trade agreement in 2007.
At the time, discussions were aborted due to differences over the movement of professionals, labor, human rights, and environmental issues and India’s high tariffs, inconsistent tax regime, and non-payment of arbitral awards, he writes.