India and EU to commence seventh round of FTA negotiations

Expected to span five days, the upcoming round of negotiations follows the conclusion of the sixth round in Brussels on October 27, 2023.

New Delhi is set to host the commencement of the seventh round of negotiations between India and the European Union (EU) regarding a free trade agreement (FTA) on Monday. Alongside discussions on the FTA, talks will also encompass an investment protection agreement (IPA) and an agreement on geographical indications (GIs).

Expected to span five days, the upcoming round of negotiations follows the conclusion of the sixth round in Brussels on October 27, 2023. The preceding discussions delved into policy areas concerning goods and government procurement offers, with the seventh round anticipated to extend its focus to include services and investment.


Chief negotiators from both sides laid the groundwork for the upcoming talks through meetings in Brussels and New Delhi, paving the way for substantive discussions. While previous rounds covered significant ground on matters related to goods and public procurement, the forthcoming negotiations are poised to address remaining complexities and advance mutual interests.

Despite the complexities involved, negotiations have progressed steadily, with both parties engaging constructively over the past few months to reconcile disparities and set the stage for the seventh round. Technical sessions during the sixth round spanned various policy areas and chapters, totaling 71 sessions conducted in-person and virtually.

However, the road to a finalized agreement remains challenging, particularly given the impending general elections in India and European Parliament polls. Despite mutual interest in advancing the deal, a breakthrough may be delayed until after these electoral processes.

One contentious issue revolves around the EU’s proposal to implement a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) on imports, including those from India. India staunchly opposes this move, emphasizing its commitment to environmental protection but resisting the integration of such measures into trade agreements.

As negotiations proceed, India is actively preparing its industries to embrace sustainable practices, such as the production of green steel, cement, and hydrogen. Meanwhile, the EU’s demands include the removal of trade barriers for smaller European firms and access to India’s services and public procurement markets, all negotiated with a focus on reciprocity and equity.

Recognizing the differences between micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in both regions, negotiators are mindful of protecting India’s MSMEs, agriculture, and dairy sectors during discussions. India, as the world’s fifth-largest economy, is committed to safeguarding the interests of its vulnerable farming community, viewing farming as essential for subsistence rather than solely for profit.

Unlike recent FTAs with other nations, the proposed agreement with the EU is notably comprehensive, given the size and scope involved. With 27 member countries in the EU and a broad range of subjects under negotiation, finalizing the pact is expected to require more time and intricate deliberations.

The resumption of bilateral negotiations in 2022, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s participation in a leaders’ meeting hosted by the EU in May 2021, signifies a renewed commitment to strengthening trade and investment ties between India and the EU. Despite the challenges ahead, both sides remain determined to navigate complexities and achieve a mutually beneficial agreement.