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India ready to resume talks on free trade pact with EU: Sitharaman

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India ready to resume talks on free trade pact with EU: Sitharaman
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New Delhi: India was "ready to talk" with the European Union (EU) on the proposed bilateral free trade agreement, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday.

"I have assured the EU ambassador and ambassadors of individual EU countries that we are ready to talk with the European community. They have been our traditional trading partners," Sitharaman told reporters here.

Negotiations on the FTA, officially dubbed the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) between India and the EU, were launched in June 2007 but have been facing hurdles with both sides having differences on crucial issues.

No negotiation was held after both sides failed to bridge disagreements in May 2013 on crucial issues including data security status for the IT sector.

Sitharaman said the agreement had been delayed for a very long time and several rounds of negotiations were held, but did not reach any logical conclusion.

"This was stated by great concern and worry by the European community ambassador. We did ask the ambassador if their priority is till on an FTA with India, considering there is talk about a trans-Atlantic partnership going on and the ambassador said yes. The EU is looking forward to having an FTA with India and talks would be encouraging," she said.

"We readily accepted and therefore we certainly and definitely want to engage with the EU on that," she added.

Both sides are also yet to resolve issues related to tariffs and movement of professionals.

Launched in June 2007, the negotiations for the proposed Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) between India and the European bloc has witnessed many hurdles with both sides having major differences on crucial issues.

The EU-India bilateral trade stood at $101.5 billion in 2013-14.

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