India, EU must jointly work on FTA, says Belgium trade minister Pieter De Crem

NEW DELHI: Following the global customs deal at World Trade Organization, India and the European Union must work together to speed up agreement on their free trade pact, said Belgium trade minister Pieter De Crem during a panel discussion at the Economic Times Global Business Summit on Saturday.

"With India's support, we achieved the Bali package deal, and now there is need to speed up the India-EU broadbased investment and trade agreement (BITA). It will create an important free trade area, which will substantially increase trade traffic between India and the Union," De Crem said in the roundtable on Global Trade: Road after Bali. "We hope the agreement between India and EU is signed as soon as possible," he said, The EU and India have been negotiating a free trade pact since 2007 with 15 rounds of talks being held until the end of 2013. The two sides are yet to iron out issues related to tariffs and movement of professionals but the EU has shown an inclination to restart talks.

Read more at:On the issue of multilateralism in the era of regional and bilateral trade agreements, Nepal's trade minister Sunil Bahadur Thapa said that all manner of engagement is needed to fully tap development potential. "The Bali trade deal, the Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) deal and bilateral deals all are relevant in their own way and are needed together to achieve the development objective," he said.

While the Bali deal sought to create a new world trade order, India needs to develop skilled human capital to benefit from it, said Naveen Chandra Bajpai, deputy chairman, State Planning Commission, Uttar Pradesh. "The road ahead is challenging, requires understanding and sensitivity," he said.

Mexico's trade minister Cesar Frogozo said the WTO deal will help enhance exports of developing countries, just as the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) helped his country emerge as the largest exporter in Latin America. "We recognize that we need foreign development investment to boost our reforms.

The WTO deal will be good for all of us," he said. "There was a lot of speculation about Nafta in the beginning but we have achieved remarkable outcome." Baroness Verma, UK minister of energy and climate change, said her country was keen to work with India, "bring our expertise and exchange knowledge with states, especially in areas such as infrastructure, technology and renewable energy". There was a need to promote investments and think globally, said Aristomenis M Syngros, chairman, Enterprise Greece.

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