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Key details of India’s pact with four-nation European trade bloc

Reuters | 10 March 2024

Key details of India’s pact with four-nation European trade bloc

By Manoj Kumar

NEW DELHI, March 10 (Reuters) - India signed a free trade pact on Sunday with a group of European nations - Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein - committing to reduce tariffs, while New Delhi receives $100 billion in investments over the next 15 years.

India and the members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) held 21 rounds of talks over 16 years to clinch the broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement.

Here are key facts about the trade pact:


India expects that the pact, following deals with the UAE and Australia, will boost exports of pharmaceuticals, garments, chemicals and machinery while attracting investments in automobiles, food processing, railways and the financial sector.

India is the EFTA’s fifth-largest trading partner after the European Union, the United States, Britain and China, with total two-way trade touching $25 billion in 2023, its trade ministry estimates.

Its exports to the EFTA touched $2.8 billion and imports were about $22 billion during that period.

With a population of 13 million and combined GDP of more than $1 trillion, the EFTA nations are the world’s ninth largest merchandise trader and its fifth largest in commercial services.


Swiss manufacturers of machinery, luxury items such as watches and transport are expected to benefit, the Swiss government says. India has invited Swiss transport companies to invest in the railways.

The pact allows EFTA nations the opportunity to export processed food and beverages, electrical machinery, and other engineering products to a potential market of 1.4 billion people at lower tariffs.

The pharmaceutical and medical devices industry within the bloc could also benefit.


India hopes the pact will improve trade ties with Switzerland - the biggest partner in the EFTA. India is its fourth-largest trading partner in Asia and the largest in South Asia.

More than 300 Swiss companies such as Nestle, Holcim, Sulzer, and Novartis, apart from banks such as UBS operate in India, while Indian IT majors TCS, Infosys and HCL work in Switzerland.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has often criticised predecessor governments for compromising the interests of domestic industry in trade pacts and moved slowly in seeking a firm commitment to increase investments.

Talks on trade pacts have run for years with Britain, the European Union and other partners.


India earlier rejected the four nations’ demand for the pact to include provisions on "data exclusivity" that would make it difficult for its drug companies to produce generic variants of the off-patent drugs, Indian officials said.

India and the EFTA also agreed to largely keep "sensitive" farm products and gold imports out of the pact.


Switzerland’s policy of tariff-free entry for all industrial goods from any country, with effect from Jan. 1, would affect benefits to Indian companies, Global Trade Research Initiative, a think tank based in New Delhi, says in a report.

India is likely to keep facing difficulties in exporting farm produce to Switzerland due to a complex web of tariffs, quality standards, and approval requirements, analysts warned.

 source: Reuters