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In its first high-level dialogue on bilateral trade and investment, India and the European Union exchanged views on the possibility of opening new areas of cooperation, especially on the resilience of global value chains and regulatory mechanisms besides key market access issues.
India hosted the first India-EU high-level dialogue (HLD) on February 5 through virtual mode. The HLD was co-chaired by Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and European Commission Executive Vice-President and Trade Commissioner, Valdis Dombrovskis.
The dialogue has been established as part of the commitment made during the 15th India-EU Leaders’ virtual Summit held on July 15, 2020, to provide ministerial-level guidance to the bilateral trade and investment relations.
According to an official statement by the European Commission, Dombrovskis and Goyal discussed trade and investment issues with an emphasis on the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as vaccine production and distribution mechanisms, including value chain linkages.
Amid the pandemic which has claimed over 2.30 million lives, India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, in recent weeks have supplied COVID-19 vaccines to several countries including Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.
During the discussion, Dombrovskis and Goyal also exchanged views of various important policy developments and market access issues. They also reviewed a selection of key market access issues to identify prospects for resolving them.
India is an important trade and investment partner for the EU. As per the pre-COVID-19 data, India represents a sizable and dynamic market, with an annual GDP growth rate of around 6 percent.
The EU is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for Euro 80 billion worth of trade in goods in 2019 or 11.1 percent of total Indian trade, on par with the USA and ahead of China (10.7 percent).
During the interaction, while the EU side provided an update on the ongoing review of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences, which expires end of 2023, and on the work towards EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism under the European Green Deal, India informed about the latest “Make in India” and “Self-Reliant India” initiatives.
Regarding reforms in the World Trade Organisation, the EU and India discussed their views on the “state of play of WTO reforms and their cooperation in the WTO”.
“The two sides recalled their continued attachment to the rules-based multilateral trading system. They reiterated their commitment to cooperate to preserve, strengthen and reform the WTO, and to work together to make the twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference a success,” the Commission said.
During the interaction, the EU side proposed to hold a regular structured dialogue between the EU and India on WTO reform.
Ahead of the Leaders’ Meeting, the Co-Chairs has asked the experts to look into the feasibility of resuming work on trade and investment agreements, new areas of cooperation (regulatory aspects and resilient value chains) and to enhance collaboration on WTO reform.