India-EU: Setting the stage for an ambitious FTA as digital trade talks kick

India and the European Union (EU) are poised to embark on the next round of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), laying the groundwork for a comprehensive and far-reaching agreement. Scheduled to take place in New Delhi from June 19-23, 2023, these talks, initiated last year, aim to make substantial progress and achieve a comprehensive agreement by year-end.

Building on the success of the Trade and Technology Council (TTC) meeting held in Brussels last month, which showcased the burgeoning partnership between India and the EU, the Indian delegation included — Dr S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs; Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT and Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce & Industry.

India’s trade relationship with the EU has been on a positive trajectory, with the EU currently holding the position of India’s third-largest trading partner. In 2021, bilateral trade in goods reached an impressive €88 billion, constituting 10.8% of India’s total trade. Similarly, India ranked as the EU’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for 2.1% of its total trade in goods. In 2020, trade in services between India and the EU was around  €30.4 billion.

The resumption of FTA negotiations signifies a renewed commitment to bridge the ambitious gap that led to their suspension in 2013. Both India and the EU have acknowledged the untapped potential for deeper economic collaboration. The negotiations aim to establish a comprehensive agreement spanning various sectors, including goods, services, and investment.

Notably, ahead of the main negotiations, a dedicated digital trade track discussion is scheduled to take place from June 15-16, underscoring the growing importance of digital trade and emerging technologies in shaping the global economic landscape. This highlights the recognition of technology’s transformative power and the shared desire to leverage it for mutual benefit.

The forthcoming negotiations between India and the EU for an FTA hold immense potential to boost trade, foster economic growth, and strengthen the partnership between the two entities. This moment presents an opportune time to forge deeper ties and seize untapped collaboration opportunities, particularly in the digital realm. As digital trade talks commence, the stage is set for a comprehensive and ambitious agreement that can unlock new avenues for prosperity and innovation.

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