EU-India trade and investment cooperation will ensure that the EU remains an attractive trading partner worldwide
by Jennifer Richard
The Indo-Pacific region is a strategic trading partner of the EU. Together, the EU and the Indo-Pacific region hold over 70% of the global trade in goods and services and 60% of foreign direct investment flows. India is definitely one of the most strategic countries of the region: the EU is India’s third largest trading partner. There is a lot of potential to develop since India is the EU’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for 2.1% of EU total trade in goods in 2021, well behind China (16.2%). Renew Europe therefore welcomes the adoption, by a wide majority, of the report on EU-India future trade and investment cooperation and the report on the Indo-Pacific strategy in the area of trade and investment.
India is a very important and strategic trading partner for EU, and vice versa. The restarting of trade and investment talks is therefore a positive signal. Renew Europe strongly believes that trade is a key to prosperity, by creating export opportunities for our companies, creating jobs, but also a good tool to improve respect for human rights and social and environmental standards worldwide. We call on the Commission to be ambitious and bold regarding our market access opportunities and sustainable development goals in the framework of our trade relations with India. Renew Europe has insisted to have a strong language on climate action, human and labour rights and the rule of law and gender equality in the trade and sustainable development (TSD) chapter. A chapter on SMEs, digital trade and provisions on sustainable food system should also be included. Today, EU companies face many difficulties to access the Indian market or to invest in India. An agreement between both parts could create various opportunities for our businesses. However, our group regrets India’s hesitancy to denounce Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. Renew Europe is also convinced that India should be on our side to address the consequences of this unacceptable attack on food security.
Svenja Hahn (Germany, Freie Demokratische Partei), Renew Europe shadow rapporteur on both files, declared:
„Closer EU-India trade relations will diversify and strengthen supply chains. A free trade agreement will improve the living standards of many people, create jobs in India and the EU and foster cooperation between democracies. A trade alliance between democracies will boost our economies and reduce dependencies on autocracies.“
Renew Europe also believes in a strong and ambitious EU strategy for trade cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. Diversifying our partners and trade relations is a key goal to maintain our position as a global player, especially in these uncertain times of geopolitical tensions. The announcement last week by the Commission of a political deal on the free trade agreement with New Zealand is positive news. The EU is strong and continues to demonstrate its ability to set solid benchmark for sustainable trade. We must continue on this path with other countries of this region, which are of strategic interest.
Svenja Hahn MEP added:
„The EU needs to have a clear strategy towards the Indo-Pacific region. The region is geopolitically important and economically striving. Fostering trade relations has huge potential to strengthen the region and the EU. The European Commission must work to ensure the EU is an attractive partner to the region.“
Søren Gade (Denmark, Venstre), Renew Europe’s chair of the EU India delegation, added:
“It is important to keep the focus on developing our mutual trade and the mutual access to markets and investments. This is where the real potential is for both Europe and India. Furthermore I also think we need to address the fact that India is a country developing very rapidly right now. In fact the country is the fastest growing economy in the world, right now in 6th position worldwide measured on GPD per capita. That is an excellent performance — and that is why it is evident that the world’s two largest democracies continues having a strong partnership with mutual respect for both our similarities and our differences”.