Creative approach can help realise India-EU trade pact: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said a creative approach was required to advance the stalled India-EU talks for a mutual free trade agreement that would benefit both the sides.

Ahead of the 13th India-European Union Summit here on Wednesday, Modi said: “I feel that a progressive path and creative mindset to the India-EU Trade and Investment Agreement can enable all the European countries, including Belgium, to benefit from India’s strong economic growth.”

Addressing mediapersons, with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel alongside him, he said: “For India, EU is one of our strongest strategic partners. Trade, Investment, and technology partnership between India and the EU would be one of the focus areas of our discussions.”

Among other issues on the agenda, the two sides will address the ongoing negotiations for a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) with an aim to instil some political impetus to the stalled talks.

The free trade agreement (FTA) talks with the EU were called off last year in response to the bloc’s ban on sale of around 700 Indian pharma products.

In July last year, the EU had banned over 700 pharma products of GVK Biosciences, Hyderabad, for alleged manipulation of clinical trials.

The last round of the FTA talks, started in 2007, was held in May 2013 without any breakthroughs owing to EU concerns on high tariffs on cars and wines, while India’s concerns are in the area of services.

India’s exports to the European Union in 2014-15 contracted around 4.5 percent to $49.3 billion, while imports fell over 2 percent to $48.8 billion.

Referring to his earlier meeting along with Michel with Belgian chief executives, Modi invited the Belgian government and companies to invest in India’s ambitious development projects like Digital India, Start-Up India and Skill India.

“Belgian businesses can make their global supply chains more cost effective by manufacturing in India,” he said.

“India’s goal to modernize infrastructure, especially railways and ports, and building of 100 plus smart cities also presents a unique investment opportunity for the Belgian companies,” he added.