India and European Union discuss Free Trade agreement:
India and the European Union (EU) on Saturday concluded the fourth round of talks for a comprehensive free trade agreement in Brussels, a move aimed at further strengthening economic ties between the two sides.
India and the 27-nation bloc resumed negotiations on June 17 last year after a gap of over eight years on the proposed agreements on trade, investments and Geographical Indications (GI).
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In an effort to strengthen economic ties between the two regions, India and the four-nation EFTA group met on Wednesday to discuss ways to resume negotiations for a free trade agreement.
During a meeting between high-level representatives from India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) here, the topic came up for discussion.
In a statement, the commerce ministry said that the two sides "discuss the prospects of resuming their negotiations toward a Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA)."
The official name for the two regions' free trade agreements is TEPA. In addition to easing regulations to encourage trade in services and investments, such agreements allow two trading partners to significantly reduce or eliminate customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them.
Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, led the high-level delegations; Norway's Minister of Trade and Industry, Jan Christian Vestre; Helene Budliger Artieda, Swiss State Secretary at the SECO State Secretariat; Martin Eyjolfsson, Iceland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Permanent Secretary of State; Kurt Jager, Liechtenstein's Ambassador and Permanent Representative in Geneva for EFTA, WTO, and the United Nations; and EFTA Secretary-General Henri Getaz.
"The gathering gave an open door to the two sides to trade sees on the condition of play of their discussions and investigate ways of propelling the discussions," it said.
The participants acknowledged the difficulties posed by the current global economic and trade environment and the necessity of addressing bilateral trade and economic partnership issues in a methodical and constructive manner.
It went on to say that "Both sides agreed to continue their efforts to resolve all outstanding issues," "work toward deepening and strengthening the economic partnership while contributing to a more inclusive global trading system," and so forth.
The European Union (EU) does not include the EFTA nations. The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a group of governments working together to further free trade. It was established as an option for states that didn't wish to join the European People group (EC).
Compared to USD 1.74 billion in 2021-22, India's exports to EFTA nations totaled USD 1.67 billion in April-February 2022-23. While imports totaled USD 25.5 billion in 2021-22, they totaled USD 15 billion in the 11-month period of 2022-23. The EFTA group benefits from the trade gap.