India and the European Union (EU) on Tuesday emphasised the need for expediting ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations and working together on common priorities for the World Trade Organisation that would enable meaningful solutions to pending issues at the next ministerial meeting.
At the meeting between Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis on the sidelines of the first Ministerial meeting of India-European Union Trade and Technology Council (TTC) in Brussels, both sides agreed that the outcome of trade talks should support economies and employment.
It was also emphasised during the discussions that the FTA talks can be speeded up by finding convergence on all issues after due consideration to mutual sensitivities on market access for balanced and meaningful outcomes.
“They (India-EU) expressed hope that their joint efforts would enable finding meaningful solutions in the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference,” a statement issued here said.
The next ministerial conference of WTO is scheduled to be held in UAE in 2024. The Ministerial Conference (MC), which includes trade ministers of all 164 members of WTO, is the highest decision making body of the organisation.
“India and EU agreed to work together on common issues related to dispute resolution mechanism, subsidies on agriculture and fisheries, ecommerce moratorium as well as domestic legislations,” the statement said.
India is pushing for an end to the moratorium on customs duty on cross-border trade through e-commerce, a permanent solution to the issue of subsidies in agriculture and fisheries, and public stockholding of foodgrains.
The decision on not taxing cross-border electronic transmissions was taken in 1998 and the waiver has been extended every two years. Now as the e-commerce has grown multifold India wants the waiver to go.
On the issue of agriculture India wants that a permanent solution should be reached on the peace clause agreed at Bali ministerial in 2013 on food subsidies and public stockholding of foodgrains. The peace clause has no sunset date but India wants that some permanent agreement is reached on it. It also wants the base year for calculating subsidy limits to be more recent and based on current prices.
Developed countries want the subsidies limited to 10% of the production and limits to public stockholding of foodgrains as it distorts markets.
In the 12th ministerial conference in Geneva in June last year, WTO members secured a ‘Geneva Package’ which included agreements on curbing harmful fishing subsidies.
“Both sides (India-EU) recognised the need to build on their common goals to pursue consensus-based solutions that would support the livelihoods and food security for millions in India as well as in large parts of the developing world,” the statement added.