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India makes a trade deal with the European Free Trade Association

India has finalized a free-trade agreement (FTA) with four non-EU European nations that make up the EFTA – Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. 

According to India’s trade minister, the agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) could bring in investments worth 0 billion (£77.8 billion) into India. 

This development comes at a time when there are ongoing negotiations between the UK and India over an FTA, discussions that have persisted for the past two years.

After nearly 16 years of negotiations, this agreement has been reached. As part of the deal, India will eliminate most import tariffs on industrial goods from these four nations in exchange for investments spanning a 15-year period.

These investments are anticipated to cover a number of sectors, including pharmaceuticals, machinery, and manufacturing.

For the agreement to come into force, both India and the four EFTA countries must ratify it. Switzerland has set its sights on ratifying the deal by next year. 

India is on the brink of general elections this year, with Prime Minister Modi vying for an unprecedented third term in office. Over the past two years, India has also inked trade agreements with Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

Recently, UK’s trade minister Kemi Badenoch hinted at the possibility of striking a free trade deal before India’s elections, although she acknowledged the challenges involved. “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 said.

“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.

Prime Minister Modi added: “This landmark pact underlines our commitment to boosting economic progress and creating opportunities for our youth. The times ahead will bring more prosperity and mutual growth as we strengthen our bonds with EFTA nations.” 

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