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India, EU FTA negotiations seen progress, we would like faster movement: EAM Jaishankar

New Delhi : Negotiations between India and the 27-member European Union on a Free Trade Agreement have seen progress, and a “lot of things have happened”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday, adding “we would like to see greater urgency and faster movement”. Speaking at an online event along with French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian, the EAM said that following the India-EU summit in May last year, “expectations were that the bureaucrats will pick up on the urgency and get to work. Our negotiations have been in freeze since 2013. And in 2014 (after the Modi government came in), we were keen to resume, and after initial hesitancy, the leaders took the call last May.” “Negotiators are very much in touch, and active, and a lot of things have happened, and there has been movement. But we would like to see greater urgency and faster movement… And there are some other trade negotiations with other states, and we hope it adds to our credibility where Brussels is concerned,” the EAM added. He also said that FTAs are complicated, and involve an enormous amount of give and take. “With regard to the FTA with the EU, there are particular challenges; we have to recognize them, harmonise them, and also some non-trade issues,” he added. The French Foreign Minister Le Drian said that there will be another summit between the EU and India in the second half of this year. “The trade discussions are never very easy, there is need for political will, and we are back to negotiations. They will be complicated, as 27 members are negotiating with a single country, India; but we have been able to arrive at results with others too. The path is difficult, but if the will is there we will be able to reach it,” Le Drian said. On the subject of connectivity, EAM Jaishankar said that the approach of India and the EU’s Global Gateway are similar. “We have a similar approach, where we have stressed on transparency, viability, local ownership, respect for territorial integrity of the country. It is a good fit between the Global Gateway and India’s connectivity vision. This has led to India-EU connectivity partnership,” Jaishankar said. He said India has development projects in 67 countries around the world, of decent sized projects, and 288 under different stages of implementation. He said while the EU has been involved in such connectivity projects for sometime, “now they have made it more contemporary and focused”. “The best way of promoting collaboration of like-minded countries is to work together,” he added at the event organised by the ORF think tank.

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