India and EFTA Member Countries Closer Than Ever to Finalizing Free Trade Agreement

India and EFTA Member Countries Closer Than Ever to Finalizing Free Trade Agreement

India and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member countries are reportedly making significant strides toward a free trade agreement, with officials stating that they have never been closer to reaching a pact. Norwegian Trade Minister Jan Christian Vestre and Swiss State Secretary for Economic Affairs Helene Budliger Artieda, in exclusive interviews with ANI, commended the growing ties between India and the EFTA member nations. Although they refrained from specifying a deadline for finalizing the talks, both officials expressed optimism about the imminent conclusion of the agreement.

The EFTA comprises Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, and negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with India began 15 years ago. Despite 20 rounds of negotiations, the deal has yet to be finalized. Minister Vestre, pleased with the progress, highlighted that efforts have been made this year to address various issues. While acknowledging remaining points of contention, he remained optimistic about the potential benefits for both sides.

During his third visit to India in 2023, Vestre held discussions with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. Artieda, on her seventh visit to India this year, emphasized that the two sides have never been closer to a trade pact and indicated a shared commitment to dedicating time and resources to the negotiations.

When asked about India's role amid the current geopolitical situation, Artieda commented on the rapidly changing global landscape, expressing concern about the percentage of people living in non-democratic countries. She suggested that India has the potential to be a lighthouse for democracy. Vestre highlighted India's successful G20 presidency, emphasizing its significant role in the global arena, particularly in areas like the green transition.

In summary, both sides are optimistic about the progress in the negotiations for a free trade agreement, recognizing the potential benefits and the crucial role that India plays in the evolving geopolitical landscape.

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