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Opinion

FTA talks with the EU stall due to bloc reluctance: Jaishankar

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Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday that negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and the European Union had been stalled for the past six years due to the group’s reluctance.

Talks for NAFTA have been stalled since May 2013, when both sides failed to close substantial gaps on crucial issues, including the state of data security for the IT sector. When asked during an interactive online session whether the talks stalled due to India’s reservations against FTAs, Jaishankar vehemently dispelled it, saying: “It is not a matter of principle. India has nothing in principle against free trade agreements or preferential trade agreements. ”

Launched in June 2007, the negotiations for the proposed agreement have witnessed many obstacles, as the two sides have great differences on crucial issues.

Giving a summary of developments related to the proposed FTA, Jaishankar said in the sixth edition of the MED dialogue that India was negotiating it with the European Union until 2013, but that the deal could not be closed.

“There was a change of government in 2014. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered the EU that they would like to reopen and continue those negotiations. In fact, it was the EU that adopted the position of 2014 that looks, right now we have other priorities, we don’t know if we are ready ”.

“So for the last six years, and I say this as someone who sat in the room, heard my own leaders say this, listened to the responses of the EU leaders. The reluctance to participate since 2014, this I can personally testify, is not from the Indian side. It is on the EU side, even today, ”he added.

The foreign minister said he had visited Brussels twice in the last year and raised the matter with the commissioner in question.

“In the last year, I was in Brussels twice and raised the issue with the commissioner in charge of dealing with us. And that was practically the answer I got, which was that we have to think about this, we are not sure we want to do this at this point, “he added.

When asked about India’s withdrawal from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Association (RCEP) last year, he said he had to make the decision as his concerns were not addressed.

“The idea that we would have had big payoffs waiting for us at the end of the rainbow, sorry, I don’t believe that,” Jaishankar said of remarks that India would lose if it pulled out of the RCEP.

The RCEP deal sealed last month included 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and five of the bloc’s dialogue partners: China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

When asked about India’s relations with the United States, Jaishankar said that they are on the rise because there is a structural convergence between the two countries.

“I am very confident that the relations between India and the United States will continue to function well,” he said.

Hindustan Times

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