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India Secures $100 Bln Economic Pact with EFTA Nations


Sun 10 Mar 2024 | 06:24 PM
Israa Farhan

India has formalized an economic agreement valued at over $100 billion with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), encompassing Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, marking a significant stride in international trade relations.

These countries, distinguished by their non-membership in the European Union, have collectively embarked on this monumental deal with India.

For the accord to be operational, ratification from all participating entities is requisite, with Switzerland projecting completion by 2025.

The pact entails India abolishing or significantly reducing import tariffs on a vast array of industrial goods from EFTA countries, reciprocated by a $100 billion investment commitment for 15 years, as articulated by Indian Trade Minister Piyush Goyal.

This agreement, forged after 21 rounds of discussions extending over 15 years, is hailed by Goyal as a contemporary, balanced, and mutually beneficial trade arrangement for the quintet of nations involved.

From the Swiss perspective, the deal ensures the elimination or gradual reduction of customs duties on 95.3% of their industrial imports to India.

Concurrently, Norway has successfully negotiated almost zero import taxes on a broad spectrum of Norwegian commodities, a significant alleviation from the erstwhile import taxes that could escalate to 40% on certain items.

This development arrives as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi intensifies his campaign for the upcoming general elections in May, with a narrative focused on substantial GDP growth and ambitions to elevate India to a developed nation status.

Modi's vision includes augmenting India's annual exports to $1 trillion by 2030, a goal supported by recent trade agreements with nations like Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

India's trade rapport with the EFTA bloc is noteworthy, with the latter being India's fifth-largest trading partner, following the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China.

The bilateral trade between India and the EFTA group was estimated at $25 billion in 2023, according to India's Trade Ministry.