India signs free trade agreement worth $100 billion with four European countries

The deal now needs approval from India and the four EFTA countries to come into effect

Indian Trade Minister Piyush Goyal. – Reuters/File
  • The European Free Trade Association includes Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.
  • The agreement was signed after nearly 16 years of negotiations.
  • India has also signed trade agreements with Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

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

The agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which consists of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, was announced at a time when India and the UK have been negotiating a free trade agreement for the past two years. British Broadcasting Corporation the report said.

“This landmark agreement underlines our commitment to promoting economic progress and creating opportunities for young people,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement.

He added: “The era ahead will bring more prosperity and shared growth as we strengthen our ties with EFTA countries.”

As part of a deal negotiated nearly 16 years ago, India will remove the four countries’ most important tariffs on industrial goods in exchange for 15 years of investment in pharmaceuticals, machinery and manufacturing.

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

The deal now needs approval from India and the four European Free Trade Association countries to take effect, with Switzerland planning to take effect by next year.

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India, which will hold elections this year, has signed trade deals with Australia and the United Arab Emirates in the past two years.

British Trade Secretary Kemi Badnock said last week that while it was possible for the UK to strike a free trade deal before India’s election, it would still be “challenging”.

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

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By Ali Raza

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