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Statement by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis Following Resumption of EU-India Free Trade Agreement Negotiations

17 June, 2022

Minister Goyal and I have just concluded a productive meeting.

Today we formally resume EU-India negotiations towards a free trade agreement, and begin negotiations on an investment protection agreement and an agreement on geographical indications.

We have both just come from MC12 in Geneva, where we achieved important multilateral outcomes in a number of key areas, following tough negotiations.

The EU invested a huge effort to get key results over the line, notably on fisheries, pandemic response, e-commerce, and starting a meaningful process of WTO reform.

We showed that the WTO can deliver, and can be relevant when it comes to tackling global crises. I want to thank Minister Goyal for helping to achieve those results - we were working very closely together to ensure that MC12 was a success.

Turning now to the bilateral EU-India relationship, we are pleased that we restarted talks on a free trade deal today. The next round of negotiations will take place from 27th June to 1st July in New Delhi.

We are pursuing an ambitious timeline, and we aim to conclude the talks by the end of 2023.

These far-reaching negotiations on trade, investment protection and geographical indications open a new and exciting chapter in EU-India relations.

Together, we aim not only to boost economic growth and job creation, but also promote our shared values, work to protect the climate, and secure our supply chains.

Our ultimate goal is to maximise the considerable – yet largely untapped – trade and investment potential between the EU and India.

We are already major trading partners, with annual trade of 120 billion Euro. The EU is India’s 3rd largest trade partner, accounting for almost 11% of Indian trade in 2021.

Meanwhile, India is the EU’s 10th most important trading partner, accounting for over 2% of EU trade in 2021; this relatively small share in overall EU trade in goods points to a large untapped potential.

Liberalising trade and investment will thus generate significant opportunities for growth, also in areas going beyond trade in goods, notably services and digital trade, intellectual property and public procurement.

As with all EU trade agreements, the future arrangement would include ambitious and enforceable provisions on trade and sustainable development.

This would help to promote high environmental and labour standards in both the EU and India. It would support EU efforts to reach our climate goals under the European Green Deal.

On top of this, the Investment Protection Agreement should significantly increase investor confidence on both sides. We are confident that this will lead to increases in foreign direct investment in both directions.

This increased investment is also important for employment. Existing investments between us already contribute to over 1.3 million jobs, and there is good scope for building on this foundation.

The EU and India also share a similar approach when it comes to protecting geographical indications. So, the Geographical Indications Agreement, once concluded, will support rural communities and help preserve the cultural and culinary heritage of both sides.

To conclude, for the European Union, the partnership with India is one of the most important relationships for the upcoming decade.

We believe these negotiations will open new ways to deepening our Strategic Partnership, helping to secure our joint prosperity, and promote our shared values.