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INDIA: EU free trade talks to mature slowly

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A free trade agreement between India and the European Union, which could include lower import tariffs on wines and spirits, could still be some way off as the two sides prepare to meet in New Delhi.

Fresh talks will begin tomorrow (10 February), but intermittent discussions have been ongoing since 2007, mired by disagreements on both sides.

Indian government sources close to the negotiations said today that key hindrances remain, although some announcements may be made. In January, the European Commission said that “it is expected that the summit will endorse a tight road map for conclusion in the coming months”.

Lower wine and spirits tariffs for EU producers are on the table, but some major obstacles to a deal lie in other areas. In particular, India is insisting on free mobility of its professionals in the EU, while the Europeans want better access to India’s services sector.

Reports in India last month indicated that New Delhi was open to slashing import duty on ‘high-end’ alcoholic drinks from the EU. This came shortly after a Scotch Whisky Association delegation concluded a major lobbying mission in India seeking a sizeable reduction of the 150% duty on imported spirits.


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