EU, India To Start Talks On Free Trade Deal

India wants an agreement with its largest trading partner.

India and the European Union agreed here Oct. 13 to begin negotiations leading to a bilateral free-trade accord. "We have agreed to move forward negotiations for a broad-based trade and investment bilateral agreement," said Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandeslon added: "This is very significant for two reasons: it shows developed and developing countries that working together benefits themselves and also benefits the international trading system.

"Secondly, what we agree can create new standards for openness and stronger and global trade rules, which will benefit everyone in the global economy, not just us."

The EU is India's leading trade partner, ahead of the U.S. and India. India is the EU's 10th largest trade partner.

Their combined exchanges were worth 40 billion euros (US$49.9 billion) in 2005, an increase of 11% over 2004. The EU has a trade surplus of 2.2 billion euros with India.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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