India says it will only agree to a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union if the latter decides to accord the Asian economic giant data-secure destination status.
In a report by the Economic Times on Monday, the country has linked the FTA negotiations with achieving data-secure status as it understands the boost the recognition will give to its business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
India currently has no access to sensitive data such as intellectual property or patient information required for telemedicine from the EU. This is because it is not considered a data secure market and data protection laws prohibit the transfer of such information, the report noted.
"We have to gain data-secure business to get the EU's BPO business. This is the only way the bilateral agreement will be balanced between the two," said India's commerce secretary SR Rao.
In order to speed up the process, the country's commerce department will request the EU trade commissioner's office to send its technical team for inspection of India's data security provisions in September, instead of October as was originally planned.
"We will ask them to send their team in September so that there is no undue delay in granting the status," Rao stated.
According to estimates by the Data Security Council of India (DSCI), India's outsourcing business from the EU could jump from US$20 billion to US$50 billion annually "in a short time" once it gets accorded the data-secure status. The DSCI is an independent self-regulatory organization set up by National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom).