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India wants 'answers' from EU on GVK ban before reviving FTA talks

Nirmala Sitharaman said the unilateral step on EU's front is a question of India's brand and its USP

Nayanima Basu  |  New Delhi 

Nirmala Sitharaman
Nirmala Sitharaman

India wants the (EU) to “answer” questions on the latter's decision to ban 700 drugs tested by before it revives negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA).

“We would like to continue the talks. It is not related to a particular company…I am interested in reviving (the India-EU talks) but we want answers, too. To take a call without even answering the questions raised by the prime minister or by the minister or by the team lets me down,” commerce and industry minister told Business Standard on the sidelines of The Economist summit here on Wednesday.

She said over decades, India’s pharmaceuticals industry has been the pioneer in setting standards. And, it was improper for the EU to take a unilateral step like this.

“If without giving us a convincing answer a unilateral step can be taken by the EU on a sector which has established quality and is universally accepted for providing life saving drugs at affordable prices, I thought India’s USP, India’s brand, India’s strength is being questioned,” she added.

Chief negotiators from India and EU were expected to meet on August 28 to restart talks for the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement, in hiatus since 2013. With the EU ban, India deferred the talks.

EU maintains this issue is of Hyderabad-based GVK providing them inaccurate data and not related to trade.

Earlier this week, German ambassador to India stated his country's government was “hopeful” that the talks would be revived soon.

The talks started in 2007 and have missed several deadlines for finalisation. EU wants greater tariff cuts, even zero duty access for its wines and spirits and automobiles. India wants EU to confer it the status of a ‘data secured nation’.

On the issue of the proposed National Intellectual Property Rights law, Sitharaman it would soon be sent to the Cabinet for approval. She, however, said it would be “coincidental” if the government approved it before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the US at the end of this month.

First Published: Thu, September 10 2015. 00:42 IST