India to seek removal of trade barriers to EU


New Delhi : India will ask the European Union to recognise its quality testing standards and remove non- tariff trade barriers when the two sides meet here tomorrow for week-long negotiations on an agreement for elimination of import duties over the next 10 years.

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A 40-member delegation from EU will hold extensive talks on a comprehensive Trade and Investment Agreement, including services, with Indian officials beginning October 1.

“Our main aim is to get a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) as part of the overall pact. It is absolutely essential for exports,” a senior Commerce Ministry official said.

MRAs lay down the conditions under which EU and a third country concerned will accept test reports, certificates and marks of conformity issued by the Conformity Assessment Bodies of the party to the agreement.

The official said India would also seek flexibility on the Rules of Origin — a mechanism under which certain percentage of inputs should be locally procured for items to be covered under a bilateral trade agreement– besides seeking easy movement of people.

“If everything goes well, we should be in a position to conclude the trade and investment agreement with the 27-nation bloc by 2008-end,” he said.

India started talks with the EU, its largest trading partner, on the pact in 2006. Operationalisation of the agreement would be spread over the next 10 years and by that time duties on most of the goods traded between India and EU would be brought to zero.

“We can expect tariffs to come down to zero only by 2019, since the elimination process would be carried out in a phased manner,” he said.