The European Union and India have shown interest in resuming negotiations for ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade and investment agreements once their respective approaches and positions are close enough. Ahead of the EU-India Leaders’ Meeting, the first meeting of the EU-India High-Level Dialogue on Trade & Investment was hosted online by India last week.

“The two sides had open and constructive exchanges on a broad range of issues with the aim of enhancing EU-India bilateral trade and investment relations. Their discussion will feed into the preparation of the upcoming EU-India Leaders’ Meeting,” the European Commission said in a statement.

The High-Level Dialogue, held on February 5, was co-chaired by Valdis Dombrovskis, EU’s executive vice-president and commissioner for trade, and Indian minister for commerce and industry Piyush Goyal. The decision to establish the High-Level Dialogue had been taken during the 15th EU-India Summit held on July 15, 2020.

Dombrovskis and Goyal discussed trade and investment issues with emphasis on the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as vaccine production and distribution mechanisms, including value chain linkages. They exchanged views on the state of play of EU-India bilateral trade and investment relations, and possible ways forward.

They also examined alternative approaches and looked into the possibility of opening new areas of cooperation, for instance, in relation to the resilience of global value chains and regulatory cooperation, notably in relation to new technologies.

Views were also exchanged on various key policy developments and market access issues. 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, while the Indian side provided an update on the “Make in India” and “Self-Reliant India” initiatives. They also examined a selection of key market access issues to identify prospects for resolving them.

In the run up to the Leaders’ Meeting, the Co-Chairs tasked experts to look into the feasibility of resuming work on trade and investment agreements; new areas of cooperation (regulatory aspects and resilient value chains); as well as enhancing collaboration on WTO reform. This will be followed by another meeting of the High-Level Dialogue to take stock of experts’ discussions ahead of the Leader’s Meeting, the statement said.