On 14 December 2015, The European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS) and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), organised a joint conference on “Social Dimensions of EU-India Trade Relations”.
Social Dimensions of EU-India Trade Relations
- Start02:15 PM - Dec 14 2015
- End06:30 PM - Dec 14 2015
- Room JDE 63, European Economic and Social Committee, Rue Belliard 99, Brussels
14:15-14:30 Welcome Remarks
– Mr Georges Dassis, President, European Economic and Social Committee
– Mr Dick Gupwell, Vice-Chairman, European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS)
14:30-15:15 Session 1: The Present State of EU-India Strategic and Trade Relations
– Moderator: Mr Dick Gupwell, Vice-Chairman, European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS)
– Mr Roberto Cecutti, Policy Co-Ordinator for South Asia, DG Trade, European Commission
– Mr R.S. Desai, Advisor, Maniben Kara Institute (MKI)
15:15-16:45 Session 2: Possible Social Dimensions and Impacts of EU-India Trade Relations
– Moderator: Mr Eddy Laurijssen, Board Member, European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS)
– Mr G. B. Gawde, Director, Ambekar Institute for Labour Studies (AILS)
– Mr Sunil Prasad, Secretary General, Europe-India Chamber of Commerce
– Mr Maurice Fermont, Adviser, BusinessEurope
– Ms Claire Courteille, Director, ILO Brussels Office
– Mr Dumitru Fornea, European Economic and Social Committee
16:45-17:00 Coffee Break
17:00-18:30 Session 3: Civil Society Perspectives on EU-India Trade Relations
– Moderator: Mr Axel Goethals, CEO, European Institute for Asian Studies
– Mr Tom Jenkins, Senior Advisor, European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)
– Dr Vijayanta Anand, Director, Nirman
– Dr S.B. Goilkar, Research Manager, Employers’ Federation of India
– Mr Tony Zahra, European Economic and Social Committee
Social Dimensions of EU-India Trade Relations
India and the EU are negotiating the Broad based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) since June 2007, covering a wide range of areas, including various goods, products and services, as well as investment rules, government procurement and intellectual property rights (IPR). Since the BTIA negotiations launched in June 2007, the two sides have met for 16 rounds of talks, but the issues are still being fine-tuned. In fact, negotiations on the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with India, a key part of the strategic partnership launched in 2004, have been on ice since 2014. However, even if the conclusion of the FTA process is taking its time, there is no doubt that the trade relations and economic cooperation between India and the EU will continue to develop considerably in the coming years.
Strengthened EU-India trade relations will create opportunities by opening new markets for goods and services; increasing investment opportunities; making trade cheaper – by eliminating substantially all customs duties; making trade faster – by facilitating goods’ transit through customs and setting common rules on technical and sanitary standards; making the policy environment more predictable – by taking joint commitments on areas that affect trade such as IPR, competition rules and the framework for public purchasing decisions.
However, the civil society organisations in India have their apprehensions that unbridled influx of multinationals is likely to cripple local industries, and Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights are likely to give considerable control to the EU over critical resources in India. Moreover, while increases in trade, investment, capital flows, and technology may enhance the growth of EU and Indian economies, the concern is also whether an EU-India FTA would actually help address the challenges of poverty, unemployment, social inequality, insecurity and (un)sustainable development.
It is against this backdrop that the European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS) and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), organise a joint conference on “Social Dimensions of EU-India Trade Relations”. Its objectives are:
- To inform civil society on the present state of trade negotiations and relations between the EU and India: Problems and Prospects.
- To discuss the potential impacts and implications (both positive and negative) of these developments from a Civil Society point of view.7
- To examine whether an EU-India FTA – and strengthened trade relations in general – would help address the challenges of poverty, unemployment, social inequality and insecurity, as well as achieve inclusive economic growth and promote development of social sectors.
- To create a forum of the dynamic and manifold civil societies of Europe and India with the aim of monitoring the implementation of the agreement and explore possible avenues of raising matters of common interest, and make recommendations to the European and Indian authorities.