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1st meeting of India-EU Trade, Technology Council to be held in Brussels next week

1st meeting of India-EU Trade, Technology Council to be held in Brussels next week

New Delhi: The India-European Union Trade and Technology Council (TTC) will have its first ministerial-level meeting on May 16 in Brussels to examine ways to strengthen collaboration in strategic technologies, digital connectivity, clean energy, commerce, and investments, according to a formal announcement on Sunday.

In addition to S Jaishankar, the minister of external affairs, and Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the union minister of state for electronics and information technology, the commerce ministry announced that Piyush Goyal, the minister of trade and industry, will serve as one of the co-chairs.

The EU side is co-chaired by Executive Vice Presidents (EVPs) Dombrovskis and Vestager.

It said that three working groups under the mechanism will report on roadmaps for future cooperation between the two sides -- Working Group on Strategic Technologies, Digital Governance and Digital Connectivity; a Working Group on Green and Clean Energy Technologies; and a Working Group on Trade, Investment and Resilient Value Chains.

"The first ministerial meeting will lay the roadmap for the cooperation under all three working groups and provide direction to achieve desired outcomes before the next ministerial meeting in the coming year," it added.

During the high-level meetings with senior leadership of the European Union as well as Belgium various issues would come up for discussions and that include ongoing negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), addressing issues of mutual market access, and reforms in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The working group on trade, investment and resilient value chains is steered by the Department of Commerce and the first meeting of the working group was co-chaired by commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal and Sabine Weyand, Director General for Trade, from respective sides.

The formation of the TTC was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission in New Delhi, in April 2022 with the objective of creating a high-level coordination platform to tackle strategic challenges at the nexus of trade, trusted technology and security.

The ministry said that on May 15, Mr Goyal will have a bilateral meeting with EVP Dombrovskis followed by stakeholder consultations in the presence of business leaders of both sides.

He would also participate in a meeting which would involve a discussion over the economic footprint of Belgium enterprises in India along with further plans of investments in India.

Besides, the three Indian ministers would also call on the Belgian prime minister as well as the president of the European Commission.

On May 16, Mr Goyal will attend a stakeholder event for working groups 1 and 2. Group 1 focuses on digital governance and connectivity while Group 2 deals with clean and green energy technologies.

He will also hold a bilateral meeting with European Commissioner for Internal Trade Thierry Breton, wherein issues pertaining to the SME sector, startup ecosystem and e-commerce will be deliberated upon.

India had started negotiations for a trade pact with the EU in 2007 but the talks stalled in 2013 as both sides failed to reach an agreement on key issues, including customs duties on automobiles and spirits and the movement of professionals.

India's merchandise exports to EU member countries stood at about USD 65 billion in 2021-22, while imports aggregated at USD 51.4 billion.

In 2022-23, the exports aggregated at USD 67 billion, while imports stood at USD 54.4 billion in the last fiscal.

The EU accounts for a 16.4 per cent share in India's exports and about an 8.3 per cent share in imports in the last financial year.

With PTI inputs

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