India and the 27-nation European Union (EU) will resume talks for their long-pending free trade agreement from June, a top official said on Wednesday.
Commerce Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said the EU team will visit India for talks soon after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting, which is scheduled for June 12-15.
“The team is coming here for the first round… to start again… Come June, we will start the talks,” he told reporters here.
The Commerce Secretary said that sectors like textiles would benefit enormously from this agreement.
India’s textile products attract customs duty of around 9-10 per cent in the European Union and around 8-9 per cent in the UK.
If the trade deal goes through, the EU will replace the US as India’s biggest destination for textiles.
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said that he has met a large EU delegation which has expressed its desire to expand trade ties with India.
“I told him about the advantages of investing in India and the scope of manufacturing on a large scale here,” Goyal said.
He said that India will have a comprehensive agreement with the European Union. He said that there could be an interim agreement with the UK and Canada first.
The third round of talks with Britain will be held by the end of this month. “With Canada, we have talked for an interim agreement and then go ahead,” he said.
The proposed Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) between India and the European Union has been stalled since May 2013 due to several issues. BTIA is a type of comprehensive free trade agreement that is being negotiated by both the parties.
India’s goods exports to EU member states stood at around $57 billion in 2021-22 (April-February), while imports totaled $46.36 billion.