NEW DELHI, May 15:
A free trade agreement between India and four-nation bloc EFTA will help enhance two-way commerce, investment flows, job creation and economic growth, an official statement said on Monday.
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, who is in Brussels, has discussed modalities of engagement for working towards a comprehensive Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) with representatives of European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
On April 26 here, both sides discussed ways to resume negotiations for the agreement.
“India and the EFTA states…discussed the modalities of engagement for working towards a comprehensive TEPA,” a press communique issued after conclusion of the talks said.
It said the delegations agreed to ramp up their efforts and continue discussions at a steady pace, with several more meetings planned over the coming months, to arrive at a common understanding on critical issues pertaining to TEPA.
Both sides emphasised on the importance of building their discussions on principles of trust and respect for each other’s sensitivities to achieve a fair, equitable and balanced agreement, it added.
“Indeed, a TEPA between EFTA and India could bring significant economic benefits, such as integrated and resilient supply chains and new opportunities for businesses and individuals on both sides leading to increased trade and investment flows, job creation, and economic growth,” it said.
Goyal held meetings with Guy Parmelin, Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research; Einar Gunnarsson, Ambassador, Permanent Representative at the Permanent Mission of Iceland in Geneva; Kurt Jäger, Ambassador, Permanent Representative at the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to EFTA; and Erik Andreas Underland, Specialist Director at the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries.
A free trade agreement between the two regions is officially dubbed as TEPA.
Under such pacts, two trading partners significantly reduce or eliminate customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them, besides easing norms to promote trade in services and investments.
EFTA countries are not part of the European Union (EU).
EFTA is an inter-governmental organisation for the promotion and intensification of free trade. It was founded as an alternative for states that did not wish to join the European Community.
India’s exports to EFTA countries during April-February 2022-23 stood at USD 1.67 billion as against USD 1.74 billion in 2021-22. Imports aggregated at USD 15 billion during the 11-month period as compared to USD 25.5 billion in 2021-22. The trade gap is in favour of the EFTA group. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, May 15: