New Delhi and EU resume free trade talks

India and the EU yesterday resumed talks on a free trade deal after a nine-year hiatus, as Western countries seek to wean New Delhi from its close economic ties with Russia.

Dubbed the “tariff king” by former US President Donald Trump, India has become more open to lowering trade barriers in recent years and is negotiating pacts with several other countries.

The Asian giant has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even increasing its oil purchases from its longtime strategic ally and main arms supplier.

Photo: Reuters

The EU is India’s second largest trading partner after the United States, but talks with the bloc broke down in 2013 over issues such as tariff cuts and patent protection.

Merchandise trade hit a record high of $116 billion in 2021-22, with India’s exports to the EU27 reaching $65 billion, according to New Delhi.

“Both parties want trade negotiations to be broad, balanced and comprehensive, based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity. There will also be discussions on addressing market access issues that hamper bilateral trade,” India’s Commerce Ministry said earlier this month when announcing the first round of talks in New Delhi, which was to continue until Friday.

In February, India signed a major economic partnership agreement with the United Arab Emirates and in April an interim free trade agreement with Australia, aiming to conclude a full pact by the end of the year. .

India is also in trade talks with Canada, Israel and the UK. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a visit in April that the UK and India hoped to strike a deal by October.

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