India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)

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Topics Covered: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)

What to study?

For Prelims: BTIA- overview.

For Mains: Challenges and ways to address them.

Context: The European Union (EU) has expressed interest in exploring a bilateral investment protection agreement (BIPA) with India that would be delinked from the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) where ongoing negotiations are in a state of limbo.

Implications:

Carving out a separate investment protection agreement from the bilateral FTA — formally called the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) — which is currently under negotiations, will make it possible for the investment protection pact to be signed even if there is no progress on the BTIA.

About India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) negotiations:

On 28th June 2007, India and the EU began negotiations on a broad-based Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) in Brussels, Belgium.

These negotiations are pursuant to the commitment made by political leaders at the 7th India-EU Summit held in Helsinki on 13th October 2006 to move towards negotiations for a broad-based trade and investment agreement on the basis of the report of India-EU High Level Technical Group.

Significance:

India and the EU expect to promote bilateral trade by removing barriers to trade in goods and services and investment across all sectors of the economy. Both parties believe that a comprehensive and ambitious agreement that is consistent with WTO rules and principles would open new markets and would expand opportunities for Indian and EU businesses.

The negotiations cover:

Trade in Goods, Trade in Services, Investment, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade, Trade Remedies, Rules of Origin, Customs and Trade Facilitation, Competition, Trade Defence, Government Procurement, Dispute Settlement, Intellectual Property Rights & Geographical Indications, Sustainable Development.

What’s the issue now?

Negotiations have been languishing since 2013 when the talks collapsed over certain demands from the EU such as greater market access for automobiles, wine and spirits, and further opening up of the financial services sector such as banking, insurance and e-commerce.

  • The EU wanted labour, environment and government procurement to be included in the talks.
  • India’s demand for easier work visa and study visa norms as well as data secure status, that would make it easier for European companies to outsource business to India, were also not received enthusiastically by the EU countries.

Sources: The Hindu.