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East Midlands Liberal Democrats

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Local Euro-MP in Delhi for high-level talks on EU-India Free Trade Agreement

April 26, 2012 11:25 AM

Bill Newton Dunn, LibDem MEP for the East Midlands, is about to set off for a week of meetings with Indian MPs, Indian Government and State ministers, representatives of the business community and NGOs in Delhi and Chennai. Discussions will address key opportunities and challenges in EU-India relations, and particularly the EU-India Free Trade Agreement, on which negotiations between the parties are reaching their final stage.

Bill Newton Dunn, one of India's strongest supporters in the European Parliament, has been following closely the progress on the Free Trade Agreement. He is keen to see an accord that maximises the potential gains that can be made from closer trade and more investment, for the benefit of all citizens not just a lucky few.

Commenting ahead of the official visit, Bill Newton Dunn said:

"The Free Trade Agreement between the EU and India would create a single market of 1.7 billion people. This could potentially unlock enormous new opportunities for businessmen small and large to build bridges in both directions. India's size, growth rate and importance on the world stage and as a partner of the EU have not been reflected in the level of trade between the EU and India so far. An ambitious trade agreement should help to change that.

"Once the FTA is ratified, entrepreneurs from the East Midlands, like others across the EU, would be able to export cars and car-parts, European foods, wine and spirits, and services such as insurance and banking. They will also gain opportunities to bid for Indian public contracts.

"After 5 years of negotiation, the agreement is thankfully on the cusp of being finalised. Yet the approval of the European Parliament is still required before the text can be ratified and enter in force. That is why it is important that MEPs are satisfied that the agreement is of the highest standard.

"Concerns have been raised regarding, especially, the impact of the agreement on access to medicines, as well as on the enforcement of human, labour, social, and environmental rights. I am confident that we will be able to debate these issues constructively during our meetings this week, and be in a position to give first-hand evidence to our colleagues in the European Parliament as they debate the FTA."