The negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the European Union (EU) will begin soon. While both parties have stated their desire to reach a comprehensive agreement that includes commitments on trade in goods and services, investments, and geographical indication, it must be acknowledged that there are fundamental differences in the design, or template, of the trade agreements signed by India and the EU thus far.
In terms of scope, the EU accords are both broad and deep, suggesting that they not only cover a wide range of problems beyond the liberalisation of trade in goods and services and investment, but they also take enforceable commitments on the majority of issues. In comparison, India’s trade agreements are getting more comprehensive (or broad), but not necessarily binding for most areas other than the liberalisation of commodities, services, and investments. Many obligations are made on a best-effort basis. The convergence of trade and sustainable development as embodied in the two countries’ accords is a major difference.