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European Parliament panel for deepening of trade ties with India

LiveMint logoLiveMint 22-02-2017 Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: A sustained campaign by Pakistan last year to highlight alleged human rights violations in Kashmir by sending special envoys to Western capitals seems to have floundered with members of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee stating that this was a question for Indian institutions to address.

A five-member delegation led by Germany’s David McAllister also said that the European Union (EU) was ready to accommodate more Indian IT professionals and slammed any form of protectionism in global trade, amid anxiety in India over a possible clampdown on H1B visas by the US government. 

The delegation is one of the three from the EU visiting India this month in a bid to develop contacts and ties with Indian parliamentarians.

“The reports of breaches of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir have to be settled through domestic Indian institutions,” McAllister told journalists in New Delhi.

“The conflict is a very sensitive issue, we know how sensitive this issue is... I know that this foreign affairs committee (of the EU) visited both sides of Kashmir some years ago in 2003... breached human rights—this has to be settled by domestic Indian institutions,” he said.

McAllister hailed India’s economic growth as “impressive” and sought a deepening of trade ties.

Criticizing the US government’s protectionist views, McAllister said Europe was “open” to allowing more Indian professionals into the EU. “Europe is open for people with high demand. Indian people are highly skilled. Our IT sector would not have been successful if we did not have skilled professionals from India,” he said.

McAllister also urged an early resumption of negotiations for the EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA). He said his delegation would urge Indian leaders to resume the talks as the pact will significantly boost two-way trade. “We deeply regret that we are not being able to move ahead. We will use the visit to call for resumption of talks for the agreement,” he said. Talks on the BTIA have been stalled since 2013 and attempts to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues, including data security status for the IT sector, have not yielded any results.

McAllister’s colleague Urmas Paet said the EU would like a trade pact with India on the lines of the recently concluded EU-Canada deal that has a provision for investment protection and dispute settlement.

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