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India and EU: Free-trade agreement close

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India and EU: Free-trade agreement close


Leaders from the EU and India have made “substantial progress” towards a free trade deal.

Talks have been ongoing since 2007 and are said to be in their final stage, despite protests by groups who fear this could harm India’s ability to produce cheap medicine’s. Other sticking points had been Indian duties on cars and spirits, as well as the rights for Indians to work in the UK.

The new deal is expected to boost sales between them by more than double over the next three years.

Another key topic was Iran, with whom India has maintained trading ties despite pressure from the west. European Union Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, asked for India’s help on this issue:

“We will ask Prime Minister Singh to use India’s leverage towards Iran, to help bring Tehran back to the negotiating table. Both the Union and India support the double-track approach aimed at finding a diplomatic solution.”

The EU is India’s largest trading partner and along with the US has implemented strict sanctions against Iran. During the meeting, Mr Van Rompuy shared his deep concern over the Iranian Nuclear Programme.

Prime Minister Singh acknowledged that there are problems with this, but said he hoped the issue could be resolved by “giving maximum scope to diplomacy.”

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