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Switzerland expects to sign FTA with India soon

Not without controversy. For example, Holcim Cement, currently undergoing a merger with French cement giant Lafarge to become the biggest cement company in the world, has been accused of workers rights violations in India’s Chhattisgarh region in the past. (Photo courtesy of Building and Wood Worker’s International)

PTI | Dec 08, 2014

Switzerland expects to sign FTA with India soon

Bullish about its companies making huge investments in India, Switzerland expects the long-delayed Free Trade Agreement between the two countries to be signed soon.

"A lot of progress has been made since formation of new government under leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India and we are hopeful of signing the agreement soon," Switzerland’s Ambassador to India Linus von Castelmur said.

"Both the countries have been negotiating on FTA since 2007. The process was delayed due to elections in India earlier this year," Castelmur told PTI in an interview here.

Castelmur, who was here to give Swiss Ambassador’s Award for ’inspirational and socially responsible leadership’ to Wipro Chairman Azim Premji, said the trade between the two countries are on growth path.

"From April 2000 to June 2014, Switzerland invested approximately USD 2.85 billion in India, thus becoming the tenth largest investor.

"As a large part of foreign direct investment in India, is routed through other countries, the actual direct investment in India is much higher," he said, while pegging the overall Swiss investment inflows into India at above USD 7 billion till June 2014.

While the focus with regard to Switzerland mostly remains on suspected black money stashed by Indians in Swiss banks, the trade between two countries remains significant and a large number of companies from the Alpine nation have been present here for years.

More than 200 Swiss companies have presence in India through their own subsidiaries and joint ventures. Some of them include Nestle, ABB, Holcim, Clariant and Novartis . Besides, at least 120 Indian firms are present in Switzerland.

Many Indian companies carry out business development, client servicing and trading activities from Switzerland and focus on Swiss strength in R&D is steadily gaining interest. India also remains an important market for Swiss Tourism.

As per Switzerland government data, Swiss enterprises have created over one lakh jobs in India and the business relations between the two countries go back to 1851.

Indian companies invested USD 1.2 billion between 2012 and 2014 in Switzerland, placing it among the top five European investment destinations and top-ten places globally. The Swiss-India bilateral trade nearly tripled from USD 1.6 billion in 2004 to USD 4.5 billion in 2011. However, Swiss exports to India has declined in recent years due to adverse currency rate movements and slowdown in the Indian economy.

While Swiss export to India has declined in the first three quarters of 2014, the Indian exports to the Alpine nation continued to soar in 2012 and 2013, as also in the first three quarters of 2014.

The major products that Switzerland exports to India include pharmaceuticals, machinery, transport equipments, chemical products and watches. On the other hand, India mainly exports textiles, pearls, jewellery, metal product and agricultural products to Switzerland.

 source: PTI