‘Landmark’: India seals $100bn free trade agreement with four European nations

‘Landmark’: India seals 0bn free trade agreement with four European nations

Deal now needs to be ratified by India and four EFTA nations before it can go into force

India’s Trade Minister Piyush Goyal. — Reuters/File
  • EFTA includes Norway, Switzerland, Iceland. 
  • Deal signed after almost 16 years of negotiations.
  • India also signed trade deals with Australia, UAE.

India on Sunday signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) which will bring about $100 billion in investments in the country, according to the nation’s Trade Minister Piyush Goyal.

The announcement of the deal with the EFTA — comprising Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein — comes amid India and the United Kingdom’s negotiations over an FTA for the last two years, the BBC reported.

“This landmark pact underlines our commitment to boosting economic progress and creating opportunities for our youth,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement.

“The times ahead will bring more prosperity and mutual growth as we strengthen our bonds with EFTA nations,” he added.

India will lift the most important tariffs on industrial goods from the four nations in return for 15-year investments across pharmaceuticals, machinery, and manufacturing as part of the deal which comes after almost 16 years of negotiations.

“The agreement enhances market access and simplifies customs procedures making it easier for Indian and EFTA businesses to expand their operations in the respective markets,” the EFTA said in a statement.

The deal now needs to be ratified by India and the four EFTA nations before it can go into force which Switzerland intends to do by next year.

India, which is due to hold general elections this year, has signed trade deals with Australia and the United Arab Emirates in the last two years.

The trade minister for the UK, Kemi Badenoch, stated last week that even though it is possible for Britain to conclude a free trade deal before India’s elections, it would still be “challenging”.

“I suspect that that is not necessarily going to be the case because I don’t want to use any election as a deadline,” she added.

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