Modi, Merkel all for resuming stalled talks for free trade pact with EU

Agnecies
Friday, 1 November 2019

"Both sides confirmed the importance of a balanced free trade agreement between India and the EU and agreed to deepen efforts to restart negotiations between the EU and India on the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)," the statement said.

NEW DELHI: India and Germany have agreed to intensify efforts to resume stalled negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and the European Union (EU). 

A joint press statement was issued on Friday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in India on a state visit.

"Both sides confirmed the importance of a balanced free trade agreement between India and the EU and agreed to deepen efforts to restart negotiations between the EU and India on the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)," the statement said.

The negotiations for such an agreement was pending since May 2013 as both the sides failed to bridge gaps on some crucial issues.

The proposed BTIA was launched in June 2007 but since then has faced hurdles with both the sides differing on key issues like intellectual property rights, duty cut in automobile and spirits, and liberal visa regime.

India and Germany also agreed to intensify efforts for an early conclusion of an investment protection agreement between the EU, the EU member states and India.

The statement emphasised that efforts should be made to restore the full functioning of World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute settlement system. It also called for reforms in the organisation without undermining its fundamental principles such as special and differential treatment, consensus based decision making and development objectives. For this, both the countries will strive to make the next WTO Ministerial Conference in Nursultan, Kazakhstan a success, it said.

The issue of skilled workforce featured prominently in Modi-Merkel talks, with the two countries expressing willingness to bridge the gap between the demand and shortage.

"Both leaders welcomed the resumption of the Indo-German Finance Ministries Senior Officials' Meeting...Prominent issues in this year's exchange were, amongst others, the financial and insurance sector as well as the tax challenges arising from digitalization," the statement added.

They encouraged their respective business enterprises to enter into arrangements for co-development and co-production of commercial aviation in India, including transfer of know-how and technologies.

Recognising that AI (artificial intelligence) will impact the way the world functions in the near dutfuture, the two leaders expressed intention to work together to encourage and develop cooperation on AI technologies.

"Germany and India agreed on working together closely to conduct joint bilateral and/or multilateral research and development activities on the development and use of AI," the statement said.

It said that German and Indian digital companies will jointly work towards enhancing scope of market opportunity and bilateral investments.The two sides underlined the importance of a rapid convergence of start-up ecosystems in both the countries and welcomed initiatives that allow entrepreneurs to exchange ideas and share projects.

"Germany and India agreed on consulting each other on identifying best possible approaches on cyber security and also device methods to identify areas of mutual cooperation in this regard," it said.

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