As you will know from our previous blogposts, the EU and India have been trying to reach consensus on signing a Free Trade Agreement, which could have a significant impact on the (fine) wine industry. Hopes were high that, after 4 years of negotiating, an agreement would be signed last week.
It hasn't. Since this FTA covers a very wide range of industries and is highly political, it would seem the hurdles were still too high. The negotiating parties have not yet got what they want. In particular the car-manufactoring industry as well as generic drug manufacture seem to be the major, remaining obstacles.
Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said the talks were in the "final stage" but a "few gaps" remained. EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that both sides expected the agreement to be signed by the Autumn and Herman van Rompuy, the European Council President said the EU and Indian leaders have made "substantial progress" towards a free trade agreement.
To illustrate how difficult it is to reach consensus, and how political this process is, even issues not directly related to mutual trade were considered. As a prime example, the Iranian issue was raised, with the EU pressing India to be more supportive towards the EU trade sanctions on Iran.
The bottom, rather frustrating, line: we will have to wait and see if and when this hugely promising FTA will (finally) be signed.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to watch what the big players in the fine wine business will do. Will they take a gamble and establish a foothold before anybody else does?