India-Europe Summit: High level ministerial talks to push trade, investment

Addressing the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “We must adopt long-term strategic perspective to boost ties.” Photo: PTI
A high-level ministerial dialogue to boost trade and investment relations, commitment to remove trade hurdles and expand market access, and increased security cooperation are part of the new broad-based strategic partnership adopted between India and the European Union (EU) on Wednesday.

A regular dialogue on trade is expected to pave the way for "balanced, ambitious and mutually-beneficial trade and investment agreements", officials said. 

Both sides also adopted a policy to enhance bilateral market access.

They agreed to optimally use the Investment Facilitation Mechanism (IFM) established in 2017 to promote inbound investments from the EU.

The strategic partnership objectives are set to guide ties between India and the bloc over the next five years, and formed a key part of the announcements at the 15th India-EU Summit — held via videoconferencing. 

Calling the EU a natural partner for India, PM Narendra Modi said a partnership between the two was required for maintaining global peace and stability. "In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, new economic challenges have emerged on a global scale and more cooperation between democratic nations was the need of the hour. Pressures on the rules-based international order can also be relieved through economic and human-centric development brought forward by the partnership," he said.

Both sides also committed to continuing the regulatory dialogue on pharmaceuticals and medical devices that will align products with international standards and remove quality barriers to active pharmaceutical ingredients and medicine exports, a key Indian demand. Obstacles related to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and technical barriers to trade (TBT) will also be regularly flagged and reduced, both governments said.

This was accompanied by a series of other commitments to speed up cooperation on agricultural and marine trade, reduce customs hassles, protect intellectual property and geographical indicators, and foster cooperation between small businesses and start-ups.

In the security space, closer military ties have been pushed with a focus on establishing regular security consultations that will exchange information on strategic priorities, security issues, crisis management, and peacekeeping. Early conclusion and implementation of a working arrangement between Europol and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also been agreed upon. The two sides also pushed for more convergence between the regulatory frameworks governing cross-border data flows and privacy issues. They would also "make utmost efforts towards reaching an agreement on taxation of the digital economy", with widespread consequences for internet giants like Google.

Green focus

 

With a view to strengthen policies on climate change and reduce waste, the joint statement also put stress on resource efficiency and circular economy. To this end, Modi has called for more European investments in India's renewable energy sector.

 

"Both sides consider that enhancing resource efficiency and moving towards a more circular economic model that reduces primary resource consumption, striving towards non-toxic material cycles, and enhances the use of secondary raw materials is important, notably in the context of the post-Covid-19 economic recovery efforts that can provide an opportunity to accelerate this transition," it said.

 

The formulation of long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies and a joint declaration to restrict the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels were also announced.

 

 



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