India and EFTA bloc sign landmark economic agreement promising $100 billion investment

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland are EFTA members. Almost all domestic industrial goods would receive duty-free access in EFTA nations under the agreement

   
India and EFTA agreement

India and the four-nation EFTA bloc of European nations signed an economic agreement on Sunday

India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), comprising Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, signed an economic agreement on Sunday which will step up trade and foreign investment, capping nearly 16 years of negotiations, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said after the signing ceremony.

The Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) is a binding agreement for the EFTA nations to invest $100 billion over 15 years in India, the world’s fastest growing economy, Goyal said.

Switzerland’s Economic Affairs Minister, Guy Parmelin, said that the agreement would result in more FDI and innovative technology flowing into India which would boost manufacturing in the country and lead to the creation of more jobs. This would result in a further acceleration of the ‘Make in India’ campaign, he added.

The European countries, on their part, will gain access to India’s vast market and economic opportunities that the world’s fastest growing economy offers, he said.

India has sought an investment commitment of $50 billion during the first 10 years after the implementation of the agreement and another $50 billion over the next five years from the member countries of the bloc and to facilitate the generation to boost manufacturing and generate one million direct jobs in the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the signing of the pact, saying, “Despite structural diversities in many aspects, our economies possess complementarities that promise to be a win-win situation for all nations. With the opening up of enormous trading and investment opportunities, we have reached a new level of trust and ambition. The trade agreement symbolises our shared agreement to open fair, equitable trade, as well as generate growth and employment for the youth.”

He further said, “India will extend all possible support to EFTA countries and facilitate industry and businesses not only to achieve the committed targets but also to go beyond them. May this agreement mark the beginning of a new chapter in the journey of our nations towards a more prosperous future for us all.”

From the EFTA bloc, the four ministers who participated in the signing ceremony are: Guy Parmelin, Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of the Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research; Bjarni Benediktsson, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland; Dominique Hasler, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein; and Jan Christian Vestre, Minister of Trade and Industry of Norway. India and EFTA have been negotiating the pact since January 2008 to boost economic ties.

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