India considering lowering customs duties on wines, spirits bought from EU to 40% from current 150% under bilateral free trade agreement being negotiated

INDIA , June 17, 2013 () – In a bid to lure the European Union for signing the free trade agreement (FTA), India has offered to significantly cut Customs duties on wines and spirits to 40 per cent from the existing 150 per cent.

The proposal was offered by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma to EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht at an event in Paris recently. The drastically cut in Custom duty was huge, compared to India's earlier proposal to cut it by 80 per cent.

Besides, India also proposed to cut the entry price per bottle of wine to USD 3.7 and whisky to USD 5.5.

However, the EU is still bargaining for further concessions, demanding to lower the duties on wines and spirits to 30 per cent and the prices of a bottle of wine and whisky to USD 3.5, senior officials involved in the talks said.

"This is the best we could offer at this time. It is a make-or-break situation now. We have told them clearly what it is and we cannot go below this. We have to follow the TERC (Trade and Economic Relations Committee) mandate," a senior commerce department official said.

Sharma and Gucht are expected to meet again to salvage the deal, but the dates for the meeting have not been finalized. However, it might happen later this month or early next month in Brussels.

India and the 27-nation bloc have been negotiating FTA treaty since 2007, which aims at slashing or eliminating duties on over 90 per cent of the goods traded between the two sides, while liberalising services and investments sectors. Published by HT Syndication with permission from Dion Global Solutions Limited. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at htsyndication@hindustantimes.com

(c) 2013 Dion Global Solutions Limited

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