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India-EFTA Ink $100 Billion Trade Deal, PM Modi Calls It A ‘Watershed Moment’

Mumbai: India has signed a trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Inked after nearly 16 years of negotiations, it’s a binding agreement for the EFTA to invest $100 billion in India over 15 years.

PM Narendra Modi called it a “watershed moment” in the bilateral relationship between India and EFTA countries

“The trade agreement symbolises our shared commitment to open, free, equitable trade, as well as generating growth and employment for the youth,” a statement by PM Modi read.

The Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA), as the agreement is officially known, was approved by the Union Cabinet on March 7. The “steadfast commitment to shared prosperity and our drive to cultivate a stronger, more inclusive partnership between India and EFTA, furthering the aspirations of our people” are highlighted in the agreement, according to the prime minister.

“Despite structural diversities in many aspects, our economies possess complimentarities that promise to be a win-win situation for all nations. With the opening of enormous trading and investment opportunities, we have reached a new level of trust and ambition,” PM Modi’s statement added.

Guy Parmelin, a Swiss Federal Councillor and the head of the Department of Economic Affairs, Education, and Research, Bjarni Benediktsson, the Icelandic Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dominique Hasler, the Liechtenstein Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Jan Christian Vestre, the Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry, were among the delegation members who signed the agreement.

The signing, according to Piyush Goyal, is a “momentous occasion” that represents the “culmination of nearly 15 years of hard work, tremendous energy, and effort”.

“Today is also, incidentally, the International Day of Awesomeness. I heard about it for the first time today. It’s supposed to spread positivity, make the world a better place, and I think, what could be more awesome than this?” the Union Minister added.

Trade Between India and EFTA Nations

India’s exports to EFTA countries were $1.92 billion in 2022–2033 as opposed to $1.74 billion in 2021–2022. There was a $14.8 billion trade deficit in the most recent fiscal year due to imports, which totaled $16.74 billion as contrasted to $25.5 billion in 2021–2022.

Switzerland and Norway are India’s two biggest trading partners out of the four.

Gold, equipment, pharmaceuticals, cooking and steam coal, optical devices, and orthopedic appliances are among the products that India imports most frequently from Switzerland. In the meantime, India exports a lot of machinery, some kinds of textiles and clothing, chemicals, shops, boats, and jewels and jewelry. In the most recent fiscal year, bilateral commerce between the two nations was $17.14 billion, compared to $14.45 billion in 2022–2023.

Some of the biggest pharmaceutical corporations in the world, such as Novartis and Roche, are based in Switzerland and are both present in India.

Furthermore, India has received about $10 billion foreign direct investments (FDI) from Switzerland between April 2000 and December 2023, and is the 12 largest investors in India.

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