India is to begin discussions on a new free trade agreement with the European Union this week and has also said it would be open to talks with the UK on something similar for the end of the Brexit transition period.
A virtual India-EU Summit will be held tomorrow (July 15th 2020) between Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, president of the European Council Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.
Analysts have said the meeting could be critical in laying the groundwork for a way forward between the two sides.
Speaking to the press ahead of the summit, India's trade minister Piyush Goyal said the country is keen to do a deal with the EU that could start with a preferential trade agreement and would like to see the same thing happen with Britain.
"I am looking for an early harvest deal. Open to discussions on a variety of subjects. It's up to the UK and EU, whoever picks up the gauntlet first," he added.
Six years of talks had already taken place between India and the EU on a potential free trade deal, but they were suspended in 2013 after both sides reached an impasse.
However, India pulled out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership last year and is now more conscious that it needs to find new ways of boosting its exports. This is something successive governments have thus far failed to do.
As part of any new agreement, the EU is known to be looking for lower taxes on wine, spirits and dairy products, with intellectual property another potential sticking point.
India has previously said it would want data secure nation status with the EU, as it is not currently on the bloc's list.
The EU is a particularly important region for India, having been listed as its largest trading partner in 2018.
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