New Delhi: A formal announcement on the resumption of free trade talks between India and the European Union is expected after eight years when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the top leadership of the 27-nation meet at a virtual summit on Saturday.
The purported resumption of talks is said to have aimed at expediting deals deal to aid economic growth in the post-pandemic era.
"After almost eight years of the suspension of the free trade talks, we will agree to resume these," an EU official said Thursday, adding that "this opens up the way to a possible free trade agreement between us".
Negotiations for a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and India were launched in 2007 and suspended in 2013 due to a gap in the level of ambition between the EU and India.
As India is witnessing an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases, the EU officials clarified: "Nobody will be pressurising PM Modi to open export of vaccine in these extremely difficult times". The India-EU Leaders meeting is scheduled to take place on May 8 in virtual format.
The meeting will be the first meeting in the EU+27 format and it will reflect the shared ambition of both sides for further strengthening the India-EU Strategic Partnership, according to a statement by the Indian government. Sources also added that the two sides are likely to announce a connectivity partnership to enhance ties in the railway, maritime and aviation sectors.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephonic conversation with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
During the phone call, the two leaders agreed that the forthcoming India-EU Leaders' Meeting was an important opportunity to provide renewed momentum to the already multi-faceted India-EU relationship.
Speaking to ANI on Monday, European Union Ambassador to India Ugo Astuto said India-EU Leaders' summit will discuss the response to the challenge posed by COVID-19 besides security cooperation, connectivity, trade, investment and fight against climate change.