New Delhi: The textiles industry is broadly in agreement with the government for slashing and eventually eliminating duties on imports, as it feels that the benefits will far outweigh the costs for the domestic firms.

The Commerce Ministry has been engaged with the European Union, since 2007, for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the negotiations have reached a crucial stage.

The FTA, officially known as the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), envisages drastic reduction and eventual elimination in about 90 percent of the bilateral trade basket over a period of 10 years.

The India-EU trade in 2010-11 aggregated to USD 91 billion. The Textiles Ministry has conveyed the industry's willingness for coverage of textiles in the BTIA to the Commerce Ministry, sources said.

"We have accepted zero percent import duty on textiles items from EU to be achieved in 10 years," an official said.

Of India's total textiles exports of USD 26.8 billion during 2010-11, EU accounted for about USD 8 billion.

Since apparel imports from European nations are negligible and limited to high-end branded clothing, the industry in general feels that the proposed FTA would result in better market access for the Indian textiles in Europe.

At present India imposes about 10 percent duty on fabric or garment imports from EU, whereas the 27-nation bloc levies up to 9.6 percent duty on Indian exports.

"We have not asked for any protection against textiles and garment imports from EU as there is no cost competition. We do not see any threat in this regard. The EU exports to India cater only to the elite segment," Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) Secretary General D K Nair said.

(Agencies)