India-EU-UK FTA negotiations reach decisive stage, crucial round to begin post-elections

May 15, 2024

New Delhi [India], May 15 : The much-awaited India-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations have reached a decisive stage. Sources indicate that the crucial round will commence after the new government is formed after the ongoing general elections, according to officials familiar with the development.
A total of 13 rounds of negotiations for the India-UK FTA have been held so far, and the 14th round began on January 10, 2024. Sources added that the chapter-wise textual negotiations are nearly complete, and negotiations on goods and services are at an advanced stage. "Both parties have made good progress and are working to resolve pending issues."
On the other hand, negotiations for the India-EU FTA completed their seventh round in February this year. The eighth round of negotiations is scheduled for June 24-28, this year in Brussels, sources added.
Although, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar, speaking at a seminar on Indian Capital Markets 'Roadmap for Viksit Bharat' at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in Mumbai, termed the India-EU FTA the "most difficult FTA" due to the many non-trade issues involved. He emphasised that this FTA is an important trade priority.
The India-UK FTA negotiations, which opened in January 2022, aim to secure an "ambitious" outcome for bilateral trade - currently worth around GBP 38.1 billion a year, according to official statistics from last month.
Among the major issues, the UK wants India to significantly reduce tariffs on UK exports such as food, cars, and whisky, which can currently be as high as 150 percent. India, in turn, is concerned about the fairness of the rules applied to Indian workers temporarily transferred to the UK on business visas who have to pay national insurance, despite not being eligible for UK pensions or social security benefits.