India, EU officials to meet next week to discuss trade issues

New Delhi: Senior officials of India and the European Union would meet here next week to discuss trade related issues, including the long-stalled proposed free trade agreement, sources said. Chief negotiators of the free trade agreement are expected to deliberate upon ways to resume the talks. Negotiations for the pact, officially dubbed as the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), have been held up since May 2013 and have witnessed many hurdles.

Further, senior officials from ASEAN are also likely to hold discussions with Indian authorities on the proposed mega free trade agreement RCEP. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) bloc comprises 10 ASEAN group members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six free trade agreement (FTA) partners -- India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The talks assume significance as member countries are targeting to conclude the negotiations by the end of this year. RCEP negotiations, which started in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in November 2012, aim to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights. A US official delegation will also meet officials here for trade-related issues. This will be the first India-US meeting after America's decision to roll back export incentives under their GSP programme.

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