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India closer to finalizing Trade Deal worth $100 billion with EFTA Nations

by The Business Pinnacle
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The European Free Trade Association’s commitment to invest in India showcases a strategic partnership that moves beyond the traditional trade dynamics

India plans on finalizing a pioneering trade deal with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), consisting of Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland. This first-of-its-kind agreement could bring in a substantial investment of up to $100 billion over 15 years from EFTA nations, ushering in a new age of economic cooperation between the European bloc and the subcontinent.

The details regarding the deal have been largely agreed upon, with discussions now focusing on deciding the final investment amount. If the deal is successful, this would mark the first instance where India secures such a landmark commitment as a part of the free trade agreement. 

The European Free Trade Association’s commitment to invest in India showcases a strategic partnership that moves beyond the traditional trade dynamics.   
 
The deal, which is eagerly anticipated, raises questions about its legal binding nature. While the Indian authorities are pushing for a legally binding agreement, European officials suggest that the investment amount might be framed as a goal rather than a legally enforceable obligation. This negotiation underscores the difficult procedures involved in creating economic partnerships with other countries of this magnitude.  

Switzerland is one of the key players in this deal and has emerged as India’s largest commercial partner within the EFTA bloc. With two-day trading amounting to $17.14 billion in the 2022-23 fiscal year, Switzerland has played a pivotal role in developing economic ties between the two regions. 

Guy Parmelin, the Swiss Economy Minister confirmed last month that the outline of the deal has been agreed upon, underlining the importance of the impending agreement. Legal clarifications are currently being accelerated to ensure the timely signing of the deal before India’s elections, expected to happen in April.   
 
The text of the agreement is yet to be finalized, as both parties have agreed to withhold details at this stage. However, certain details regarding the deal have been disclosed, including provisions related to patent protection and a new type of investment promotion chapter. These aspects reflect a commitment to creating a comprehensive framework that goes beyond tariff reductions.   

For EFTA countries, this agreement opens doors to the vast market of 1.4 billion people, helping manufacturers to export processed food, electrical machinery, beverages, and other products at reduced tariffs. The deal is also expected to be beneficial for the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry within the EFTA bloc, showcasing the potential for mutual growth and collaboration in strategic sectors.   

The investment of up to $100 billion over 15 years from EFTA countries is expected to predominantly come from private businesses and state-sponsored entities. The substantial financial infusion is targeted towards both existing and new manufacturing projects in India, with the potential to create over 1 million jobs. This economic injection aligns with India’s vision for sustained growth, especially as the country anticipates a 7% growth rate in the upcoming fiscal year.  

The EFTA investment stands out as a testament to the confidence in India’s economic potential as India is attracting investor interest from various countries seeking to diversify their supply chains away from China. Additionally, the United Arab Emirates is reportedly considering a significant investment of up to $50 billion in India, further underscoring the global interest in India’s burgeoning economy. 
  
Apart from the economic benefits, the deal also addresses the movement of Indian professionals to EFTA bloc and offers improved market access for certain agricultural products. Despite Switzerland’s historical protective stance towards its farmers, the negotiations suggest a willingness to consider easier market access for Indian rice, given Switzerland’s marginal domestic production. 

The India-EFTA trade deal represents a milestone in international economic cooperation. The potential investment of $100 billion over 15 years signifies a deepening partnership that goes beyond any other traditional forms of trade agreements. 
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