“Given the changes that we have witnessed in the global and the regional scenario – an intensification of the India-EU partnership becomes an even higher order imperative”, stated Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry and Minister of Civil Aviation, Housing and Urban Affairs, while speaking at the session “European Union-India: Strategic Partnership in a re-aligned global order” at the Partnership Summit 2020, jointly organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
The India-EU partnership, which goes back to the 1960’s, have expanded and greatly integrated over many years, Mr. Puri added. In this context, the minister further observed that the two sides recently renewed the Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation to expand cooperation in scientific research and technology, which would greatly benefit both sides in areas such as providing affordable healthcare, clean energy, food processing, biotechnology, green transport and e-mobility.
Mr. Puri stated further that there was a significant potential for both sides in expanding digital cooperation, as the two countries’ flagship initiatives – India’s Digital India programme and the EU’s Digital Single Market programme created ample scope for enhanced cooperation in areas such as cybersecurity, ICT standardization, research and innovation.
Reiterating India’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Mr. Puri added that the need to reach out to the vulnerable sections was the core principle of the SDG’s as well as the multilateral system. Thus, India and EU, as two important poles of the multilateral trading system, would benefit not only the dominant economies but also the weaker trading partners, he added.
The Minister further stated that Europe and EU were considered India’s natural partners and that India was focussed on creating an enabling environment to increase trade, investments and cooperation between the two sides, through regular dialogue and interaction.
Mr. Rahul Chhabra, Secretary (ER), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, highlighted several areas of convergences for India-EU including cooperation on climate change, international terrorism and the digital economy, which had the potential of shaping global outcomes. Newer areas of cooperation between the two such as maritime security, AI, circular economy also held significant potential, he added.
Ms Helena König, Deputy Director General - Trade, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium, stated that although there was substantial trade and investments between the two sides, there were significant untapped potential and restarting negotiations on the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BITA) was critical in this regard. Ms. König further added that as the World Trade Organization (WTO) was the basis for the rules based international trading system, it is the joint responsibility of both sides to work closely in the WTO reform process.
Speaking on the session, Dr Christian Hirte, Member of Parliament, Germany, added that India was one of the few countries with which Germany was looking at strengthening partnership through cooperation. Germany was particularly focussing on the three aspects of peace and security, transport and connectivity and open markets and free trade, in its wider role of strengthening cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, Dr. Hirte further added.
Mr. Markus J. Beyrer, Director General and CEO, Business Europe, Belgium, stated that the recent pandemic had heightened the economic opportunities in the India-EU relationship. The focus, therefore, must be on economic outcomes as both economies were facing headwinds in the current crisis. As an area of concern, Mr. Beyrer emphasized the need for facilitating investor protection for encouraging greater investments from both sides.
Mr. Bernd Lange, Member of the European Parliament & Chair of the International Trade Committee (INTA) of the European Parliament, Brussels, stressed on the need for both sides to find common solutions for mutual areas of interest such as climate change, fighting poverty and promoting sustainability.
India and EU were key players with shared agendas in a rapidly changing world and that Indian industry looks forward to the earliest conclusion of the BITA between the two, added Mr. Atul Punj, Chairman, CII National Committee on Construction and Chairman, Punj Lloyd Limited.
18 December, 2020