New Delhi, May 23 (PTI) Senior officials of India and European Union (EU) today held detailed discussions on the long stalled negotiations for a proposed free trade agreement and updated each other on their positions, a government official said.
"Both the sides took stock of the progress on the free trade pact," the official who did not wish to be named said.
The meeting assumes significance as Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu had indicated that negotiations on the agreement could resume soon.
The negotiations for the pact have been held up since May 2013 and both the sides are yet to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues.
Since June 2007, both the sides have completed 16 rounds of talks and five stock-taking meetings on the proposed pact, officially dubbed as Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).
The negotiations have witnessed many hurdles with both sides having major differences on key issues like intellectual property rights, duty cut in automobile and spirits and liberal visa regime.
The two sides have to iron out differences related to movement of professionals.
Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, the EU wants tax reduction on wines, spirits and dairy products, and a strong intellectual property regime.
On the other hand, India is asking it be granted data secure nation status by the EU. The country is among the nations not considered as data secure by the EU.
The matter is crucial as it will have a bearing on Indian IT companies wanting market access.
Two-way trade between India and the EU dipped to USD 84.7 billion in 2016-17 from USD 88.58 billion in the previous fiscal. PTI RR SBT SBT
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