India secures $100 billion FDI from trade deal with four-member EFTA bloc

New Delhi, (UNI) India and the four-member European Free Trade Association (EFTA) bloc on Sunday signed a free trade deal which Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal termed as the country’s first modern free trade agreement (FTA) and also being equitable, fair and balanced.

As per the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA), the four member EFTA countries comprising Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland would invest to the tune of US$100 billion in India over the next 15 years.

“TEPA is a modern and ambitious trade agreement. For the first time, India is signing FTA with four developed nations – an important economic bloc in Europe. For the first time in history of FTAs, binding commitment of $100 billion investment and 1 million direct jobs in the next 15 years has been given,” said Commerce Minister Goyal while briefing the media after signing the agreement.

He further said, “The agreement will give a boost to Make in India and provide opportunities to young and talented workforce. The FTA will provide a window to Indian exporters to access large European and global markets.”

The trade deal has been signed between India and EFTA after 9-10 months of intense negotiation though talks first started almost 16 years back.

As per the trade pact, the EFTA bloc is offering 92.2% of its tariff lines which covers 99.6% of India’s exports. The EFTA’s market access offer covers 100% of non-agri products and tariff concession on Processed Agricultural Products (PAP).

India is offering 82.7% of its tariff lines which covers 95.3% of EFTA exports of which more than 80% import is gold. The effective duty on gold remains untouched.

“Sensitivity related to PLI (production-linked incentives) in sectors such as pharma, medical devices and processed food etc. have been taken while extending offers. Sectors such as dairy, soya, coal and sensitive agricultural products are kept in exclusion list,” Commerce Ministry said in a media release.

Goyal said that India-EFTA trade agreement is innovative and considers sensitivities of all the five countries.

“All the five countries stand to benefit. We stand to benefit in terms of investment, innovation and R&D. You (EFTA countries) stand to benefit from the collaboration in terms of your ability to meet 7-8 billion people’s needs across the world. This agreement will be good for businesses in all the five countries. It has been welcomed by all the business communities on both the sides,” Goyal said.

This is the third free trade agreement signed by the Modi government after UAE and Australia. India is currently engaged with several other countries and trade blocs including UK, EU and Canada for free trade agreements.

The Commerce Minister said that the pact with EFTA members focusses on sustainable growth, integrates India with many new global value chains and promises huge business opportunities and employment opportunities to the people of the five countries.

The India-EFTA trade agreement comprises of 14 chapters with main focus on market access related to goods, rules of origin, trade facilitation, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, investment promotion, market access on services, intellectual property rights, trade and sustainable development and other legal and horizontal provisions.

Commenting on the new trade deal, EEPC India Chairman Arun Kumar Garodia said, “India-EFTA Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) will boost bilateral trade between India and the four European member nations of Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland. It will open up new avenues for engineering exporters and help penetrate new markets.”

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