|Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa|
An India-EU trade agreement would send a “powerful signal to the world in support of the benefits of international trade cooperation,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa said in an article.
The India-EU Summit on Saturday is a “moment of profound geopolitical significance” and cooperation between the world’s two largest democratic spaces and will have a positive effect on international trade and investment, the leaders said in an article written for Politico.
The virtual summit is expected to launch negotiations on three agreements on trade, investment protection and geographical indications. This will mark the resumption of trade talks that were stalled in 2013 because of differences on key issues such as market access and mobility of professionals.
The two sides will also launch a connectivity partnership based on their shared approach to transparent and sustainable initiatives.
“The meeting is also an opportunity to give a new impetus to trade and investment negotiations between the EU and India,” the article said.
“It is the right time to resume negotiations toward an ambitious and balanced trade agreement capable of acting as a key driver for sustainable growth and jobs creation, both for India and Europe. Apart from everything else, an EU-India agreement would send a powerful signal to the world in support of the benefits of international trade cooperation,” it added.
Modi and Costa said a similar rationale applies to investment, and the “negotiation of an EU wide investment protection framework would provide greater stability and certainty to companies from India and EU to expand their presence in each other’s markets”.
They noted that EU-India relations have always been marked by mutual support and solidarity, and this was evident during the coronavirus pandemic when both sides supported each other and the rest of the world. “India extended medical supplies to Europe earlier and now the EU has extended assistance to India as it experiences a second wave of Covid-19,” the article said.
The summit will be “crucial to rebalancing relations between the EU and the Indo-Pacific”, and it is key for both sides to “reaffirm our firm belief in democracy, rule of law, tolerance and the universality and indivisibility of human rights”, the leaders wrote.
“We must seize this opportunity to elevate our relationship, using the huge potential of our democratic spaces to advance trade and investment ties and to support effective multilateralism and a rules-based order,” the article said.
The summit is also a chance to expand cooperation in new areas for the development of societies and economies, such as the digital transition, connectivity, mobility, health, the energy transition and climate action, it added.
The EU is India’s biggest trading partner and the second-largest destination for Indian exports. Trade between the two sides increased 72% in the last decade and the EU is the leading foreign investor in India. Some 6,000 European companies are present in India, generating 1.7 million direct and five million indirect jobs.