All might not be well on the India-European Union (EU) Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talk front. With the impending general elections in India, EU diplomats fear that FTA talks could rollover to the next government. If that happens, the FTA talks could loose its significance for the EU as it is on the verge of starting FTA talks with US and Japan.
Joao Carvinho, EU Ambassador to India said although there is still ground to be covered, there is still possibility of the India-EU FTA negotiation in the next few months.
Excerpts of his interview with CNBC-TV18’s Rituparna Bhuyan
Q: What is the status on the India-EU free trade agreement?
A: I think, we do have within reach the possibility of an agreement over the next few months. There is ground still to be covered. There has been a lot of work. This is the moment when we need to make some difficult political decisions. That is always the way things are at the end of negotiations. We are coming to the end of this window of opportunity.
If we have to suspend negotiations for a while and then restart them, the world would have changed. There will be different aspects; nobody knows what new government might think in India, what priorities they might have.
Q: One very specific interest in the Indian market was in the auto sector. EU wanted a zero duties for both the countries as far as the auto sector trade negotiations are concerned. Do you see that happening now? Is there a possibility that we could still go ahead and see zero duties as far as Indian and EU cars are concerned?
A: That was the long-term proposal and this is a very difficult proposal to actually see the light of day. It is nevertheless something that I think ultimately we should aim for because this is where situation like zero-zero would be where we would have the greatest levels of efficiency on both sides.
India is an important car exporter to Europe. We receive in Europe something like 2,40,000 cars coming from India against about 6000 cars that are going in the other direction. So, we need to have some balance.
I wouldn't say that we are talking only about the luxury car market, of course that perhaps might be the one that is most glamorous and most captivating of attention. However, what we are talking about essentially is creating for the consumer much better opportunities, greater choice, lower costs in both directions.