India defers FTA talks with EU


New Delhi: India on Wednesday announced putting off negotiations with the European Union on the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) that was scheduled to take place this month, on grounds of the ban imposed by the EU on importing 700 drugs from Hyderabad-based GVK Biosciences.
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“Government defers the proposed talks between the chief negotiators on India-EU Broad-based Investment and Trade Agreement (EU-BTIA),” the commerce ministry said in a release here.

“This decision has been taken as the government of India is disappointed and concerned by the action of EU in imposing legally binding ban on the sale of around 700 pharma products clinically tested by GVK Biosciences,” the ministry said.

“The government has engaged on the issue with various EU regulators over past 8 months,” it added.

The trade negotiators from both sides were expected to meet here on August 28 to resume the talks stalled in 2013.

“It is pertinent to mention that most of these drugs are already in EU market for many years without any adverse pharmacovigilance report from any member state,” the statement said.

On Tuesday, the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the meeting of the chief negotiators will focus on taking stock of negotiations.

The EU-India free trade talks have failed to reach an agreement over issues pertaining to lowering of tariffs on Indian automobiles and wines and spirits.

The EU ban on over 700 drugs, imposed last week and accepted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), is expected to be effective from August 21.

Earlier this year, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India was “ready to talk” with the European Union (EU) on the proposed bilateral free trade agreement.

“I have assured the EU ambassador and ambassadors of individual EU countries that we are ready to talk with the European community. They have been our traditional trading partners,” Sitharaman had told reporters here.

Negotiations on the FTA between India and the EU, were launched in June 2007 but have been facing hurdles with both sides having differences on crucial issues.

No negotiation was held after both sides failed to bridge disagreements in May 2013 on crucial issues including data security status for the IT sector.

The EU-India bilateral trade stood at $101.5 billion in 2013-14.