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India wants to conclude trade pact with EFTA in a year: Nath

The Hindu, India

India wants to conclude trade pact with EFTA in a year: Nath

29 April 2008

New Delhi (PTI): India on Tuesday said it wants to conclude a Free Trade Agreement with a smaller four-nation European Free Trade Association (EFTA) within a year, even as its ambitious trade pact with the European Union seems to have run into differences.

"Negotiations on the FTA will be commencing shortly. We believe that we will be able to conclude the EFTA trade agreement within one year," Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath told reporters here after meeting Swiss Federal Counsellor Doris Leuthard.

EFTA states include Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It is an inter-governmental organisation to promote free trade and economic integration between the four nations.

India and EFTA had agreed to launch negotiations on the broad-based trade and investment agreement in January this year, following recommendations of a Joint EFTA-India Study Group set up in December 2006.

The agreement is likely to include trade in goods, services, investment, intellectual property rights and technical cooperation.

Negotiations on the India-EU Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, encompassing both trade and investment, seem to have hit a roadblock with differences over the list of items which could be thrown open for trade without barriers.

Nath added that India attaches importance to Geographical Indications and Intellectual Property, which would be incorporated into the trade agreement. EFTA-India trade stood at about 2.7 billion dollars in 2006.

The two ministers also discussed the ongoing Doha Round of WTO talks, particularly the forthcoming proposed Ministerial Conference in May.