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India-EU relations have grown exponentially from what used to be a purely trade and economic driven relationship to one covering all areas of interaction. The Summit in The Hague was a landmark summit, as it endorsed the proposal to upgrade the India-EU relationship to the level of the Strategic Partnership. Every partnership needs permanent increasing mutual transparency. This meeting is another possibility to discuss openly economic concerns, strategies and to identify further fields of cooperation between the partners.
With a rather disappointing outcome of the Hongkong Ministerial in December 2005 the question has to be put forward if the EU’s priority for multilateralism is still realistic? The Europeans, as Mandelson repeated recently in Berlin, will not question during the difficult phase of multilateral negotiations in the Doha Round, the EU‘s Moratorium for Regional and Bilateral Trade Agreements whereas other States openly negotiate new bilateral trade arrangements. Especially after 2002 the US, Japan and several emerging economies including India followed a clear strategy of concluding bilateral trade agreements beside the multilateral negotiations.
India plays a growing role in the international trade order. It’s strong economic performance over the past decade strengthened India’s role in the region. In the Key Strategic Policy Paper for Indian Trade Policy between 2002 and 2007 the importance of bilateral agreements beside multilateral liberalisation is explicitly stressed as one part of Indian Strategic Trade policy.
Is there a new policy approach of European Trade Policy to stay competitive and to avoid trade diverting effects? Has the focussing on multilateralism been effective and is there a time to think about a new trade policy mix? Is a race for markets at this period of multilateral negotiations the right signal to the LDC countries? What are the costs and the benefifts of such different strategies?
In this difficult phase of multilateral negotiations all voices should be heard and have their say. To help identify the relevant positions, the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung decided to continue their fruitful cooperation of 2005 and propose a first meeting, which will take place on March, 28th ,13:00 – 14:30 at the European Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Ave. de l’Yser 11, 1040 Brussels).