India has a ‘very good agreement on table’ for the European Union on bilateral free trade pact but data security status is all important for the country, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said on Tuesday.
India-European Union Broad-based Trade and Investment agreement came up for discussion in a meeting between Sharma and visiting Netherlands Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen in New Delhi.
"We have a very good agreement on the table.
"Sharma reiterated that Mode IV (movement of professionals) in services and data secure status are very important for India," an official statement quoted Sharma as saying.
India and the 27-nation bloc are negotiating the BTIA since June 2007 and have missed several deadlines to conclude the talks due to differences among the two sides on the level of opening up of the markets.
During the chief negotiators level meeting in May in New Delhi, both the sides have failed to bridge gaps on crucial issues, including insurance and data security status for the IT sector.
Data-secure status is a big demand of India as its current lack of status has prevented the flow of sensitive information to India, a big deal for its IT industry.
This has also impacted the movement of people through restrictions on business development as it restricts transfer of personal data to locations outside EU, unless the importing country ensures adequate data protection.
Sharma also stressed the need to embrace incremental approach to conclude the pact.
On this issue, Ploumen said: "The Netherlands is a country that really relies on free trade and free trade agreements.
“And as a country, we are very much looking forward to finalise free trade agreement between the European Union and India and to make sure that we can all address those issues.
"Further the statement said India and the Netherlands have agreed to set up a joint economic and trade committee, which will provide a platform to engage in trade and investment related issues.
Sharma said that with increasing economic engagement, the committee should be eventually upgraded to the level of Joint Economic Council.
India also asked the Netherlands to increase cooperation in areas like water and waste management, agro processing and urban infrastructure to enhance economic cooperation in both the countries.
Ploumen conveyed to Sharma that the recent downturn has not reduced the interest of Netherlands in India.
The Netherlands Minister is in New Delhi with a delegation of 40 Dutch entrepreneurs to further boost trade ties.
The visiting minister also said agriculture and healthcare are the key areas of cooperation between the two nations.
She added that urban planning, infrastructure works, water management, "are the areas where we want further cooperation."
The Netherlands is India’s fourth largest trading partner in Europe.
India’s exports to the Netherlands were $10 billion in 2012, while the imports were $2.63 billions.
The European nation is the sixth largest investor in India
. During April 2000 to June 2013, India received $9.37 billion foreign direct investment from the Netherlands, which is 4.72 per cent of total FDI inflows into India during the period.