New Delhi, Jan 10 (IANS) Leading industrialists and members of government gathered here in a move to speed up signing of the free trade agreement between India and European Union (EU).
The meet to launch the India chapter of the Indo-European Business Forum (IEBF), a non-profit organisation to promote business between India and the 27-nation EU, was held Wednesday and included Minister of State for Commerce D. Purandeswari.
"The EU-India free trade agreement would help in creating jobs and investment opportunities, and will improve the living standard of people in both the regions," said G.P. Hinduja, managing director of Hinduja Group, who is on the advisory board of IEBF Wednesday.
As India's largest trading partner, bilateral trade with EU in 2011-2012 stood at nearly $110 billion, up from $90.62 billion in 2010-11.
However, the proposed FTA has hit major stumbling blocks like the EU's demands for raising the cap on foreign investments in the insurance sector and for decreasing tariffs across the auto segment.
Recently, Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel said his ministry is agreeable to cutting duty on luxury cars imported from Europe as part of the proposed FTA with the EU. However, commerce ministry sources say that EU wants India to decrease tariffs on the entire auto segment.
There are other issues, for example, India wants European Union to bring down its non-tariff barriers. India also wants it to be declared as a data secure country so as to facilitate entry of Indian IT companies in EU.
Speaking on the occasion, Purandeswari described India as a growing giant that could no longer be ignored or marginalised in the global scenario.
"With a population of 1.2 billion, the Indian economy has become the third largest in Asia in terms of purchasing power parity. It is slated to be the fifth largest consumer market in the world by 2025," Purandeswari said.
"Our business houses are going global, and many more Indian businesses are making themselves visible across the world," Purandeswari added.
Mohit Burman, managing director Dabur India said an FTA with the EU would boost trade and technology transfer.
"The agreement would have advantages like technology and knowledge transfer, infrastructure development, improvement in supply chains, increased competitiveness and skill transfer, which will strengthen the Indian and EU economies," said Burman.