Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called upon democratic countries to take the lead towards solving the economic crisis that has engulfed countries across the globe as a result of the pandemic.
Speaking at the India-EU virtual summit, which was co-chaired by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel; and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Modi said: “Both India and the EU share universal values like democracy, pluralism, inclusivity, respect for international institutions, multilaterism, freedom and transparency”.
Modi emphasized the role of the “India-EU partnership in economic reconstruction and in building a human-centric globalization”.
The European Union seeks an "ambitious" free trade deal with India although "we're not there yet", European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
"But with this high level trade and investment dialogue, we hope to advance things and to promote our common interest in moving forward towards a free trade agreement," von der Leyen, who was speaking from Brussels, told reporters.
India and the EU agreed to keep the global trading system open, with the WTO as the bedrock of a rules-based multilateral trading system and to step up cooperation to preserve, strengthen and reform the trade body.
The EU is India's largest trading partner, accounting for €80 billion worth of trade in goods in 2019 or 11.1% of total Indian trade, which is in line with the US and ahead of China (10.7%), according to European Commission data.