India and the European Union will this week seek to resolve nagging differences over tariff and services which have considerably slowed down negotiations on the proposed Trade and Investment Agreement (TIA).
Commerce Minister Kamal Nath will meet EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson in London later this week to give a push to negotiations on the agreement, which were slated to conclude by the end of this year. The negotiations were launched in June last year on the agreement that is intended to give a major boost to trade ties between the two sides. The decision to launch the agreement was taken at the India-EU summit in 2006 in Finland. Differences over public procurement, opening up of services sector and tariff cuts on industrial goods have been nagging the talks, raising questions over the timeline would be met. Both the sides have completed several rounds of negotiations on the agreement and have covered areas, including goods and services, government procurement, patent issues and trade facilities.
EU officials involved in negotiations said progress has been made on “easy issues”, while there has been less progress on “difficult ones” and noted they are in no rush to conclude the agreement unless both sides get the best out of the pact. “We would like to conclude the negotiations as quickly as possible. But for us substance is more important than speed. We will not sacrifice quality. We should not put a date till we get the best out of the negotiations,” an official told a group of Indian journalists visiting here. (Economic Times)