Sun, 13 Jun 2021

New Delhi [India], May 9 (ANI): India and the European Union (EU) are committed to work towards a balanced, ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement and an investment protection agreement in a parallel manner, said Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday.

In an official release from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, while addressing the closing session of the India-EU Business Roundtable, Goyal expressed happiness at the landmark announcement made by leaders of India and the EU on Saturday on the resumptions of negotiations for bilateral Free Trade and Investment Agreements.

"India and the European Union are committed to work towards a balanced, ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement and a separate investment protection agreement on a parallel track, and together we shall strive for early conclusion of both the agreements simultaneously," Goyal said.

"Both these agreements are going to lift our economic relationship to another level with enhanced bilateral flow of trade, investments, job creation, technology transfers and innovations. These will be separate agreements and negotiated in a parallel track. We are also committed to concluding them together at an early date," he added.

Highlighting that India had received its highest ever Foreign Direct Investment in its history, despite COVID-19, even while investments worldwide fell down, he said that "we have a very strong judiciary and respect for rule of law, transparency in all decision making, political stability, IPR protection".

"There is no compulsion for any company to do technology transfer in India. We are actively working towards improvement in our ease of doing business rankings, in our competitiveness, de-bureaucratising systems and making procedures simpler, opening up newer sectors for more FDI, strengthening regulatory practices," he said.

He also sought to reassure all business friends that they can trust India to provide a multitude of investment and manufacturing opportunities, adding that India's manpower skills and talent have contributed to businesses around the world, as per the official release.

"Therefore, India can become a natural manufacturing base to make the products from European innovation, competitive in the world. With the large Indian market of more than 1 billion people aspiring for a better quality of life and using economies of scale to expand the footprint of European goods in the world, this is a win-win partnership," Goyal said.

Speaking on the concept of Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India), the minister said that it does not mean being protectionist and closing our doors to the world, but on the contrary, India wishes to open its doors wider and warmly welcomes businesses from across the world to bring world class technologies, state-of-the-art products and services into India and investments in manufacturing, services and infrastructure.

Goyal said that with the cost of production in Europe being high and manufacturing cost in India being reasonable, European businesses can get competitive edge by producing in India.

He mentioned that India is currently ramping up vaccine production so that it can expand its vaccination coverage speedily, while appreciating the support extended by the EU during this crisis.

He also invited the business community of EU and India to use this opportunity and actively take part in the joint efforts to bolster and develop our trade ties, economic ties, people-to-people ties and cultural relationships.

During the meeting, the leaders expressed their desire to further strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership based on a shared commitment to democracy, fundamental freedoms, rule of law and multilateralism. They exchanged views on three key thematic areas - foreign policy and security; COVID-19, climate and environment; and trade, connectivity and technology.

They discussed forging closer cooperation on combating the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery, tackling climate change, and reforming multilateral institutions.

The previous EU-India summit was held on July 15, 2020, via video conference. EU and India leaders had adopted a five-year roadmap for the EU-India Strategic Partnership and a joint declaration on resource efficiency and circular economy. (ANI)

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