Geneva, 30 November 2023 – Representatives from the EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) and India convened in Geneva and by videoconference from 20 to 30 November 2023 for the 20th round of negotiations towards a Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA).
Ambassador Markus Schlagenhof, Delegate of the Federal Council for Trade Agreements and head of the World Trade Division at the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, acted as the EFTA spokesperson, while L. Satya Srinivas, Additional Secretary, Department of Commerce, led the Indian delegation.
The sessions focused on trade in goods, trade in services, rules of origin, trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade (TBT), sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), intellectual property rights (IPR), trade and sustainable development, as well as trade remedies.
In addition to expert discussions, a hybrid-format meeting between high-level representatives from India and the EFTA States took place to evaluate progress and address crucial challenges. Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal represented India, while the EFTA delegation was led by Helene Budliger Artieda, Swiss State Secretary at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. The EFTA delegation also included Jan Christian Vestre, Minister of Trade and Industry of Norway; Martin Eyjólfsson, Permanent Secretary of State of Iceland at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs; and Kurt Jäger, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to EFTA, WTO, and the UN in Geneva.
Reflecting on the ongoing negotiations, EFTA expressed its satisfaction with the progress made in various areas, emphasising the collaborative efforts of experts to streamline discussions and bridge gaps, while acknowledging the existence of challenging issues.
The EFTA spokesperson further highlighted the shared commitment to maintaining momentum and working constructively towards a swift and efficient conclusion of a mutually beneficial agreement. The focus is now on ensuring that the necessary improvements are prioritised for the earliest realisation of the benefits of a closer partnership for both sides. Another high-level meeting is to be anticipated in the near future.
The report of the round can be found here.
Economic relations between the EFTA States and India
Over the past two decades, the total trade between the EFTA States and India has been growing steadily. In 2022, the combined EFTA-India merchandise trade surpassed USD 6.1 billion. The primary imports to the EFTA States consisted of organic chemicals (27.5%), while machinery (17.5%) and pharmaceutical products (11.4%), excluding gold, constituted the main exports to India. Furthermore, services trade and foreign direct investment have also reached substantial levels. Read more about merchandise trade between EFTA and India here.
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