Decks cleared for India-EU trade accord (Lead)

December 9th, 2010 - 11:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Sarwar Kashani
Brussels, Dec 9 (IANS) Indian and European negotiators have “cleared” the decks for finalising a key free trade agreement (FTA) that is expected to give a fillip to the economic ties between the two sides, an official said Thursday.

“Essentially the decks have been cleared,” said the official who has been closely monitoring the negotiation process over the free trade accord that will increase the business volumes between the two to 100 billion euros from the present 70 billion euros.

The pact was to be wrapped before the 11th annual India-EU summit that is being held in Brussels Friday and will be attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who arrived here Thursday evening.

But the negotiations on some contentious issues like intellectual property rights were holding back the finalisation of the accord.

The official said many of the items which were being negotiated for the free trade “have been all but concluded” and understanding reached.

“This includes the matters such as on intellectual property rights.. It is absolutely crystal clear that there will be no compromise on (that),” the official said.

The official said the two sides will make the announcement at the summit that the deal will be inked by “Easter or March or April 2011″.

A report on the progress of the negotiations is also likely at the summit.

The official said there were two things on the agenda for the summit vis-a-vis the FTA.

“One, there will be a report by our commerce minister (Anand Sharma) and the EU during the summit which will in a sense summarise the state of play of negotiations.

“Second there will be a statement made by both sides, a common statement, to the press immediately following the summit,” the official added.

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