India and the European Union (EU) have agreed to expedite the ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement by finding convergence on all issues, an official statement said on Tuesday. The issue came up for discussion during a meeting between Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, and the European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis in Brussels.

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They met on the sidelines of the first Ministerial meeting of the India-European Union Trade and Technology Council (TTC). The meeting was also attended by senior officials from both sides. “They emphasized the need for expediting the ongoing FTA negotiations by finding convergence on all issues after due consideration to mutual sensitivities including on market access for balanced and meaningful outcomes that would support the economy and employment on both sides,” the commerce ministry said.

Both sides also affirmed their commitment to work together on common priorities for WTO (World Trade Organization) reforms including issues pertaining to the dispute resolution mechanism, subsidies on agriculture and fisheries, ecommerce moratoriums as well as domestic legislation, it said.

Both sides recognized the need to build on their common goals to pursue consensus-based solutions that would support livelihoods and food security for millions in India as well as in large parts of the developing world, it added. A meeting of the Working Group- 3 stakeholders co-chaired by Goyal and Dombrovskis also held. The meeting included stakeholders representing India and the EU. The group 3 focuses on Trade, Investment and Resilient Supply Chains.

The EU side had representatives from major European industrial bodies including Business Europe, Digital Europe, Food Drinks Europe, and Copa-Cogeca. The delegation of Indian business leaders attending the meeting in person represented sectors including chemicals, metals, textiles, digital infrastructure, and steel while representatives of other sectors such as agri-food industry, marine/logistics were present in virtual mode.

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