France asks India to further liberalise services, auto sector

France on Thursday asked India to further open its market for foreign companies in sectors like services and automobile under the India-EU free trade agreement.

"We are negotiating an FTA but we are still facing problems... from our side we still have few questions on liberalisation of services sector on Indian part... some difficulties in automobile sector," French Minister for Foreign Trade Nicole Bricq said.

She was addressing the members of business chambers -CII, Ficci and Assocham.

India and the 27-nation bloc European Union are negotiating the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) since June 2007 and have missed several deadlines to conclude the talks due to differences among the two sides on the level of opening up of the markets.

"...if we can rebalance our trade exchanges, it will be favourable (for the free trade agreement)," she said.

However, Bricq said that both the sides have increased the meeting at all levels including at the technical level to fast-track the talks.

A ministerial level talk is expected on the pact by end of this month, she added.

Speaking at the occasion, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma expressed hope that the negotiations would be finalised by this summer.

Trade between India and France was valued at $8.89 billion in 2011-12.

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