EU trade chief says ‘flexibility’ needed on India trade deal

Sri Lankan Police forming a human chain in parliament to protect the Speaker and enable a vote.

BRUSSELS, September 26, 2011 (AFP) – European Union trade commissioner Karel De Gucht warned Monday that a long-planned free-trade agreement between Europe and India is in trouble failing more “flexibility” from both sides. “We remain fully engaged on these negotiations,” the Belgian said after talks in Brussels among the EU’s 27 trade ministers.

“But I must also admit, it is not easy,” De Gucht said of stumbling blocks centred on life-saving generic HIV/AIDS drugs.

He said the EU’s “determination is as strong as ever,” but conceded that “at a certain point, it requires pragmatism.”

Thirteen rounds of talks have been held since India and the EU started discussing a comprehensive market-opening pact in June 2007 to boost bilateral commerce.

The two sides originally hoped to conclude a wide-ranging deal by 2010 that could boost bilateral trade to $237 billion (175 billion euros) annually by 2015 from around $92 billion currently.

But India and the EU have been at odds over intellectual property rights in patent areas involving life-saving generic HIV/AIDS drugs and other medicines which are produced by Indian companies.

UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS, has ex