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India-EU FTA ‘most difficult, complex’ due to non-trade issues: EAM Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (Photo: ANI)

Terming the India-European Union Foreign Trade Agreement (FTA) the “most difficult FTA,” External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar said on Monday that it is the most difficult one because there are a lot of non-trade issues involved in this FTA.

EAM Jaishankar was speaking to the media at a seminar on Indian Capital Markets ‘Roadmap for Viksit Bharat’ at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in Mumbai. He emphasized that this FTA is an important trade priority.

“An FTA with the European Union is the most difficult FTA, most complex FTA to do because there are a lot of non-trade issues involved in that FTA. So we are confident that we will certainly, on our side, try to take it forward,” the EAM said.

“But typically, I’d be honest, because, again, what had happened was we lost a lot of time in between because of changes of positions. I mean, what has happened has happened. So we are definitely very serious about pushing it,” he said.

If they go into the next term, Jaishankar assured, that this FTA will be one of the important trade priorities.

“My expectation is going into the next term, if all goes well with us, it will definitely be one of our important trade priorities,” he said.

Jaishankar further praised the Union Commerce and Trade Minister Piyush Goyal, who is contesting the ongoing Lok Sabha elections on BJP ticket from Mumbai North constituency in Maharashtra.

“I must say, since we are talking trade if there is one person who has made a huge difference when it comes to commerce and trade, it is my colleague, the commerce and industry minister, who is a candidate from Mumbai,” he said.

He continued, “I think his personal role in taking forward the Australia agreement, the UAE agreement, the EFTA agreement, the progress we have made in the UK, with the EU, and with the Gulf.”

Last week, Jaishankar along with his wife Kyoko Jaishankar attended Europe Day celebrations in the national capital and noted that the ties between India and the European Union are not only consequential for the two sides but also for the world.

Describing the relationship between India and the European Union as “consequential for the world as well,” EAM Jaishankar said the EU is not only “our largest economic partner,” but the ties run “very deep, spanning many domains.”

Notably, the EU is India’s third largest trading partner, accounting for Euro 88 billion worth of trade in goods in 2021 or 10.8 per cent of total Indian trade.

Moreover, India is the EU’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for 2.1 per cent of EU total trade in goods.