EAM Jaishankar calls FTA with four European nations ‘a bold achievement’

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New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) Calling the signing of the India-EFTA Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) a “bold achievement”, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on Sunday that the move reflects a new way of furthering international economic collaboration.

India inked the landmark agreement with the four-nation European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in New Delhi to usher in increased trade and investment flows, job creation, and economic growth in the country.

“A great day for India’s partnership with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland,” EAM Jaishankar wrote on X as he congratulated his colleague and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal for the pact that had been under negotiations for the last 16 years.

“The India-EFTA Trade & Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) signed today is a bold achievement. It reflects a new way of furthering international economic collaboration,” the minister added.

On the sidelines of the India-EFTA meeting, S. Jaishankar also met Bjarni Benediktsson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iceland.

“Good meeting with FM @Bjarni_Ben of Iceland on India-EFTA meeting sidelines. Discussed new areas of collaboration, investment and trade,” the minister said on X.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the 2nd CII India Europe Business and Sustainability Conclave last month, S. Jaishankar underlined that “Europe is truly a priority for India”.

Earlier Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the pact — which was formalised three days after the cabinet approved it on March 7 — as a “watershed moment” for India, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.

The EFTA-India TEPA was signed by Piyush Goyal; Guy Parmelin, Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research; Bjarni Benediktsson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iceland; Dominique Hasler, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Liechtenstein and Jan Christian Vestre, Minister of Trade and Industry, Norway.

Addressing the event, Goyal called TEPA a binding agreement for the EFTA nations to invest $100 billion over 15 years in India, the world’s fastest-growing economy.

An official readout by the European Free Trade Association said that 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 signature of this agreement marks a significant milestone in the relationships between the EFTA States and India. It reflects the culmination of dedicated efforts to foster a deeper economic partnership, underscoring the importance of dialogue, cooperation, and mutual understanding,” the readout said.

Since 2014, India has signed three such agreements with Mauritius, the UAE, and Australia, and it is also negotiating trade pacts with countries like the UK, Oman, Peru, and Israel.



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