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On May 15, 2023, India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) made significant progress in their endeavor to establish a comprehensive Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA).
- TEPA: It refers to a free trade agreement between India and the EFTA bloc. Such agreements aim to reduce or eliminate customs duties on traded goods and facilitate trade in services and investments through eased regulations.
- EFTA: It is an inter-governmental organization founded as an alternative for states not wishing to join the European Community. Its primary objective is to promote and intensify free trade among its member countries. Importantly, EFTA countries are not part of the European Union (EU).
Key Points of the Meeting
- Importance of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA): India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) bloc, consisting of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, emphasized the potential benefits of an FTA.
- Two-way Commerce: It would enhance two-way commerce, boost investment flows, generate job opportunities, and drive economic growth.
- Potential Economic Benefits: A TEPA between EFTA and India is expected to bring significant economic advantages. These include the development of integrated and resilient supply chains, the creation of new business opportunities, increased trade and investment flows, job creation, and overall economic growth.
- Modalities of a Comprehensive TEPA: Commerce and Industry Minister engaged in discussions with EFTA representatives in Brussels to deliberate on the modalities of a comprehensive Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA).
- Previous discussions held on April 26 paved the way for resuming negotiations for the agreement.
- Intensified Efforts and Steady Pace: Both sides agreed to ramp up their efforts and continue discussions at a steady pace. Multiple meetings are planned in the coming months to achieve a common understanding on critical issues pertaining to the TEPA.
- Principles of Trust and Respect: The statement highlighted the importance of building discussions on principles of trust and respect for each other's sensitivities. This approach aims to ensure a fair, equitable, and balanced agreement between India and EFTA.
- Trade Data: Trade data presented indicates that India's exports to EFTA countries from April-February 2022-23 amounted to USD 1.67 billion, while imports reached USD 15 billion during the same period. The trade balance currently favors the EFTA group.
- Strengthening Economic Ties: The discussions reflect the commitment of India and the EFTA states to strengthen their economic ties. The TEPA will lay the foundation for a comprehensive partnership, unlocking economic opportunities and contributing to the growth and prosperity of both regions.
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