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Switzerland signs free trade deal with India

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Swiss Info | 10 March 2024

Switzerland signs free trade deal with India

Keystone-SDA - The Swiss Economic Minister Guy Parmelin and his counterparts from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway signed a free trade agreement with the Indian Minister of Commerce, Piyush Goyal, in New Delhi on Sunday. The majority of customs duties will be suspended.

The signing of the agreement between the EFTA member states and India, after 16 years of negotiations, represents an important milestone for our country’s commercial policy, the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research said on Sunday.

Switzerland and the other member states of the EFTA are the first European partners to sign a free trade agreement with India. Video messages from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Swiss President Viola Amherd, were released at the signing ceremony.

Ending customs tariffs

The Swiss economic ministry pointed out that India is the most populous country in the world. Its growing middle class, in particular, gives it strong growth potential. India currently levies very high customs duties on most imported products.

Thanks to the free trade agreement, India will abolish or partially liberalise, with immediate effect or after transitional periods, the customs duties on 95.3% of industrial products imported from Switzerland (with the exception of gold).

India will also grant Switzerland duty-free access to its market for certain agricultural products after a transitional period of up to ten years. This will enhance the competitiveness of Swiss exports to India. The concessions granted by Switzerland to India on agricultural products are in line with current free trade agreements and are in line with Swiss agricultural policy, the ministry emphasised.

Improvements have been achieved in the area of intellectual property rights, particularly with regard to legal certainty, patent procedures and the protection of the “Swiss” designation (Swissness). Access to medicines in India remains unaffected.

Thanks to this agreement, Swiss economic players will gain broad access to the Indian market and will benefit from improved legal conditions, legal certainty and predictability, the press release adds.

Investing in India

The free trade agreement contains general and binding provisions on “trade and sustainable development”. These will enable the EFTA States to integrate these aspects into their trade with India.

Another chapter concerns the promotion of investment in India by EFTA companies. This is the result of the “keen interest” shown by India in attracting more investment from Swiss companies or from other EFTA States.

The parliamentary approval procedure will be launched without delay so that Switzerland can ratify the agreement by 2025 at the latest, concluded the economic ministry.

 source: Swiss Info