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EFTA countries focus on green tech in trade deal with India; dairy, agri out of ambit

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With a historic trade deal signed between India the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), all member countries are looking to deepen trade links and benefits for respective citizens and companies. India is expected to get $100 billion in investment from the EFTA countries in the next 15 years under the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA). The EFTA grouping comprises of Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

Norway’s Minister for Trade & Industry, Jan Christian Vestre, emphasised the mutual benefits of the agreement, noting that EFTA countries are poised to create one million new jobs in India. The agreement also entails significant investment growth in India, which will benefit companies in EFTA nations.
While Norway aims to eliminate 98-99% of customs duties on Indian exports and reduce tariffs on most products in the future, the Minister pointed out that trade between India and EFTA countries has doubled in the past 10 years, and the extends beyond trade.
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Vestre highlighted the inclusion of a chapter on sustainable development in the deal, stating that India and EFTA countries can now work together on renewable energy, batteries, carbon capture & storage and all the new technology needed to combat climate change. With the Norwegian sovereignty fund and climate fund already invested in India, he made it clear that their mandates can’t be controlled by the country’s government or the EFTA grouping.
With both India and Switzerland having their respective sensitivities in the dairy and agriculture sectors, India had opposed any lowering of customs duty on import of Swiss cheese into India, eventually leaving the sectors out of the ambit of the trade deal. Being the 7th largest investor in the US, Switzerland is looking to expand its investment footprint by reaching out to the 1.4 billion-strong Indian market and in turn has given 99% access given to Indian products under the EFTA.
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