India-EU FTA: PM Modi conveys concerns on ban of 700 drugs
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today conveyed India's concerns to German Chancellor Angela Merkel over banning of over 700 drugs two months back and asked her to use her influence in EU to remove the impediments for resumption of FTA talks with the 28-member bloc.
After talks between Modi and Merkel, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said there was an understanding that "we would go forward with negotiations" though there was an issue of India's pharmaceutical exports getting affected.
He was replying to a question on whether the issue of resumption of FTA negotiations was discussed in talks between the two leaders.
"The Prime Minister urged the Chancellor to use her influence to ensure that the right decision was made by the regulators in this regard," he said, The Foreign Secretary said there were a number of sticky issues in negotiations for FTA talks which include data security.
"We are also aware that the restrictions which have been placed on the sale of about 700 odd drugs from India which in our views was unwarranted. It was an obstacle to the negotiations moving forward. It was a subject of discussion today," said Jaishankar.
"It was our hope that this matter would be looked at fairly and sensibly and hopefully would not be an impediment to the FTA," he said.
Jaishankar said the issue was raised by Modi when he met leaders of European nations in New York last week.
India in August had deferred scheduled talks on the proposed pact later this month which was to resume after a gap of two years after the EU imposed a ban on around 700 generic drugs which were clinically tested by India's GVK Biosciences on the ground of inaccuracy in data.
The talks on FTA are stuck on sticky issues relating to intellectual property rights (IPR), data security for IT services and tariff in the automobile sector.
The last round of talks on the FTA was held in May, 2013.
The EU has been maintaining that it was ready to show flexibility on all major issues that have stalled the talks as the FTA will be a "win-win deal" for both the sides.
The EU was also looking at insurance, banking and retail as major areas for economic engagement with India.
Launched in June 2007, negotiations for the proposed FTA have witnessed many hurdles as both the sides have major differences on crucial issues.
Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, the EU wants tax reduction in wines, spirits and dairy products, and a strong intellectual property regime.
On the other hand, India is asking for granting 'data secure nation' status to it by the EU.
The country is among nations not considered data secure by the EU.
India, Germany to fast-track investment, revive EU-FTA talks
India has decided to fast-track investments from Germany by making it easier for German firms to get approvals and do business here, while the two countries also committed to soon resume negotiations for the stalled India-EU free trade pact.
To enhance economic ties, the two countries also renewed their determination to expand bilateral trade and investment.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in India on a three-day visit, welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ”commitment to improve the ease of doing business in India and the Indian decision to set up a fast-track system for German companies in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP)”.
It will fully operationalised by March 2016, said a joint statement issued after a meeting between the two leaders and the third Inter-Governmental Consultations here between the two sides.
On the stalled talks on the proposed Free Trade Agreement between India and the European Union (EU), both the sides underlined their “strong commitment to the EU-India Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement and committed to bring about a resumption of the negotiations as soon as possible”.
After 14 rounds of talks till May 2013, India in August this year expressed disappointment and concern over the EU banning sale of around 700 pharma products clinically tested by GVK Biosciences and deferred talks for the proposed free trade agreement.
The FTA talks were first launched in June 2007 and have missed several deadlines.
”Both sides noted the potential of open markets for deepening trade relations and for attracting investments. They agreed to work closely towards achieving substantive outcomes in the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in December in Nairobi, in conformity with the development mandate of the Doha Round and to bring the Doha Round to a conclusion,” it said.
The two countries also encouraged the private sector to take advantage of these initiatives to enhance trade and investment.
Death penalty becomes stumbling block for India-Germany MLAT
The provision of death penalty in the law has become a stumbling block for India and Germany to sign a pact for cooperation on criminal matters.
India and Germany has been negotiating since 2007 to sign the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in criminal matters but has not been able to reach a conclusion due to Berlin's strong reservation to the provision of death penalty in Indian law.
”Its (MLAT) importance has been underscored by our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and Chancellor (Angela Merkel). The negotiations have not been progressing on account of differences on the issue of ‘death penalty'.
”I am aware that this matter is handled by your Ministry of Justice, however, we seek your active support so that the treaty is concluded at an early date,” Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told his German counterpart Gunter Krings
Krings is here as part of the delegation of Merkel, who is on a three-day visit to India. Krings and Rijiju today signed two MoUs on security matters.
An MLAT is an agreement between two or more countries for the purpose of gathering and exchanging information in an effort to enforce public laws or criminal laws.
Mechanisms have been developed among nations for requesting and obtaining evidence for criminal investigations and prosecutions.
When evidence or other forms of legal assistance, such as witness statements or the service of documents, are needed from a foreign sovereign, states may attempt to cooperate informally through their respective police agencies or, alternatively, resort to what is typically referred to as requests for ‘mutual legal assistance'.
The Law Commission has already recommendation for abolition of death penalty except in terror-related cases.
However, the Home Ministry is believed to be against it maintaining that time was not ripe yet to remove it completely from the statute book keeping in mind the threat from terrorism.