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India, EFTA agree for early conclusion of talks for free trade agreement

Devdiscourse | 12 July 2023

India, EFTA agree for early conclusion of talks for free trade agreement

by PTI

India and the four-nation bloc EFTA have agreed for early conclusion of negotiations for a free trade agreement, which aims at increasing economic ties between the countries, the commerce ministry said on Wednesday.

India and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland — are negotiating the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA).

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal held discussions on the progress of the agreement with a delegation from the European Free Trade Association, led by the Swiss State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Helene Budliger Artieda, in London on July 11 and 12.

Helene Budliger Artieda was also accompanied with the industry stakeholders from pharmaceutical, machinery and electronics of EFTA states.

’’The deliberations between the minister Piyush Goyal and state secretary Helene Budliger Artieda were fruitful and detailed discussions on crucial issues, with the shared goal of swiftly concluding the TEPA negotiations,’’ it said.

The primary objective of these negotiations is to establish a fair, mutually beneficial, and comprehensive trade deal between India and EFTA.

Over the past few months, India and EFTA have intensified their engagement, highlighting the commitment of both parties to achieving an early conclusion to the TEPA negotiations, it added.

The meeting in London further bolstered this commitment, with both sides demonstrating a strong willingness to progress towards a final agreement.

Goyal expressed his satisfaction with the progress made during the meeting, highlighting the constructive and collaborative nature of the discussions.

The meeting in London added momentum to the ongoing negotiations between India and EFTA.

’’Both sides have reaffirmed their commitment to expedite the conclusion of the TEPA, recognizing the potential for enhanced economic cooperation and trade between the two regions,’’ it said, adding the successful conclusion of the agreement will set the stage for a new deeper economic collaborations.

Under such pacts, two trading partners significantly reduce or eliminate customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them, besides easing norms to promote trade in services and investments.

EFTA countries are not part of the European Union (EU).

EFTA is an inter-governmental organisation for the promotion and intensification of free trade. It was founded as an alternative for states that did not wish to join the European Community.

India’s exports to EFTA countries during April-February 2022-23 stood at USD 1.67 billion as against USD 1.74 billion in 2021-22. Imports aggregated at USD 15 billion during the 11-month period as compared to USD 25.5 billion in 2021-22. The trade gap is in favour of the EFTA group.

 source: Devdiscourse