India-EU free trade agreement stuck: British minister

Chennai, Dec 11 : Discussions on the European Union (EU)-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are stuck. There have been difficulties in concluding it and India is also headed for Lok Sabha elections soon, a British minister said here Wednesday.

Queried about the status of the long pending FTA between India and EU, British Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable said: "It is stuck. In India, elections are also coming. The agreement is facing some difficulties."

Cable was in the Tamil Nadu capital to inaugurate the GREAT British Festival that showcases some of the UK companies operating in India. He said that the EU was keen on resolving the issues that have proved hurdles to the FTA, and added that the issues were raised by the Indian side.

"At the moment... (discussions/negotiations) are slow," Cable said.

However, he declined to disclose whether the Indian demand for more free movement of people is the issue holding up the agreement.

India has been demanding more market access to services, the pharmaceutical sector and liberal visa norms to enable free movement of professionals to EU.

Queried about child labour issues raised by some British companies importing goods from India, Cable said the government does not raise such non-trade barriers.

According to him, some companies with high ethical standards may have such policies, but the UK government does not enforce such action.

Cable, once married to an Indian, said UK wants to double bilateral trade with India.

--IANS (Posted on 12-12-2013)

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