India-EU FTA on cards: Mukherjee


New Delhi : The next India-EU Summit is expected to be held here later this year, External Affairs Minister announced in Brussels Wednesday, even as he said talks would soon begin on a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two.

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"The next (India-EU) Summit is expected to be held in New Delhi late in 2007… Negotiations are also expected to begin on a wide-ranging Free Trade Agreement between India and EU soon," Mukherjee said while chairing a meeting of the heads of Indian missions in EU countries.

Underlining the importance of the India-EU Strategic Partnership, the minister called for taking the engagement beyond trade and economic issues, an external affairs ministry statement issued here said.

"The Strategic Partnership is underpinned by an extensive Joint Action Programme adopted in 2005," the minister stated, adding: "Summits have been held annually since 2000 and the next Summit is expected to be held in New Delhi late in 2007.

"Our effort is to increasingly move the relationship beyond trade and economic relationship into areas such as science and technology, cooperation in counter-terrorism, access to new energy and renewable energy technologies, space, and environment," Mukherjee said.

The EU is now India's largest trade partner and also the source of one-fifth of foreign direct investment (FDI), as well as an important destination for Indian investment.

The heads of missions briefed the minister on various aspects of the Indo-EU Strategic Partnership, principal issues of bilateral relations between India and the countries of their accreditation as well as important developments in Europe, the EU and NATO.