The European Union and India will agree to resume stalled free trade talks at a virtual summit on Saturday, according to a draft statement reviewed by Reuters, as fears of a China rise will bring Brussels and New Delhi closer together.
The draft statement, to be signed by EU ambassadors on Wednesday and requires final approval by New Delhi, will unite the world’s two largest economies in an alliance seen as countering China.
If approved, the EU and India will say: “We have agreed to resume negotiations on a balanced, ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement that will meet current challenges,” the draft statement said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with EU Executive Director Ursula von der Leyen on Monday about the resumption of trade negotiations, which have been suspended since 2013. They will be joined by President of the European Council Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the virtual meeting. Michelle will also speak with Modi ahead of Saturday’s summit.
A study by the European Parliament in 2020 estimates the potential benefits of a trade deal with India for the EU at up to 8.5 billion euros ($ 10 billion), even though this was before the UK left the bloc.
Later this year, the UK will begin negotiations on its trade deal with India, and on Tuesday, Modi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a virtual meeting. read more
In recent years, India’s economic growth has outstripped China, making it an attractive market for Europe. According to the EU, the 27-country bloc is India’s main export destination, accounting for about 15% of its overseas sales.
Although India has gradually lowered its tariffs since 1990, the EU still faces high fees on its exports of crops, food, beverages and vehicles, which are seen as barriers to the deal.
Negotiations were suspended in 2013 as the two sides failed to bridge differences such as tariff cuts, patent protection, data security and the right of Indian professionals to work in Europe.
DO NOT “ANTI-CHINA”
The draft statement also lays the foundation for an agreement between the EU and India to create joint infrastructure projects around the world in the transport, energy and digital sectors.
The deal should follow a similar deal between the EU and Japan in 2019 in search of an alternative to the Chinese largesse that has raised suspicions in the West and in Tokyo.
“Our partnership will foster transparent, resilient, inclusive, sustainable, inclusive and rule-based connectivity,” the summit’s draft statement reads, which contains veiled criticism of China-funded projects that are causing some Central Asian and Balkan countries to be sharply in debt. have grown. …
Since 2013, China has launched construction projects in over 60 countries known as the Belt and Road Initiative, aiming to create a network of land and sea links with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
The EU will also get Indian support for its new plan to increase influence in the Indo-Pacific, using areas from security to health to defend its interests and counter China, although the bloc insists its strategy is not directed against Beijing.
“We underlined our commitment to a free, open, inclusive and rule-based Indo-Pacific space based on respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, democracy and the rule of law,” the draft statement reads.
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