The formation of the Trade and Technology Council was with the objective of creating a high-level coordination platform to tackle strategic challenges at the nexus of trade, trusted technology and security
The first ministerial level meeting of India-European Union Trade and Technology Council (TTC) will be held on May 16 in Brussels to discuss ways to increase cooperation in strategic technologies, digital connectivity, clean energy, trade and investments, an official statement said on Sunday.
Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal is one of the co-chairs along with external affairs minister S Jaishankar and Union minister of state for electronics and information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the commerce ministry said in a statement.
The EU side is co-chaired by Executive Vice Presidents (EVPs) Dombrovskis and Vestager.
It said that three working groups under the mechanism will report on roadmaps for future cooperation between the two sides - Working Group on Strategic Technologies, Digital Governance and Digital Connectivity; Working Group on Green and Clean Energy Technologies; and Working Group on Trade, Investment and Resilient Value Chains.
"The first ministerial meeting will lay the roadmap for the cooperation under all three working groups and provide direction to achieve desired outcomes before the next ministerial meeting in the coming year," it added.
During the high level meetings with senior leadership of the European Union as well as Belgium various issues would come up for discussions and that include ongoing negotiations for Free Trade Agreement (FTA), addressing issues of mutual market access, reforms in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The working group on trade, investment and resilient value chains is steered by the Department of Commerce and the first meeting of the working group was co-chaired by commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal and Sabine Weyand, Director General for Trade, from respective sides.
The formation of the TTC was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission in New Delhi, in April, 2022 with the objective of creating a high-level coordination platform to tackle strategic challenges at the nexus of trade, trusted technology and security.
The ministry said that on May 15, Goyal will have a bilateral meeting with EVP Dombrovskis followed by stakeholder consultations in the presence of business leaders of both the sides.
He would also participate in a meeting which would involve a discussion over the economic footprint of Belgium enterprises in India along with further plans of investments in India.
Besides, the three Indian ministers would also call on the Belgian prime minister as well as the president of the European Commission.
On May 16, Goyal would attend a stakeholder event for working groups 1 and 2. Group 1 focusses on digital governance and connectivity while Group 2 deals with clean and green energy technologies.
He will also hold a bilateral meeting with European Commissioner for Internal Trade Thierry Breton, wherein issues pertaining to the SME sector, startup ecosystem and e-commerce will be deliberated upon.
India had started negotiations for a trade pact with the EU in 2007 but the talks stalled in 2013 as both sides failed to reach an agreement on key issues, including customs duties on automobiles and spirits and the movement of professionals. India's merchandise exports to EU member countries stood at about USD 65 billion in 2021-22, while imports aggregated at USD 51.4 billion.
In 2022-23, the exports aggregated at USD 67 billion, while imports stood at USD 54.4 billion in the last fiscal.
The EU accounts for 16.4 per cent share in India's exports and about 8.3 per cent share in imports in the last financial year.