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Parliamentary approval process for TEPA to be initiated immediately: Swiss govt

New Delhi, Mar 10 (PTI) A mega trade deal between New Delhi and the four-nation European bloc EFTA will not only open up broad market access for Swiss businesses in India but is set to improve the legal framework and predictability for them, the Swiss government said on Sunday.

New Delhi, Mar 10 (PTI) A mega trade deal between New Delhi and the four-nation European bloc EFTA will not only open up broad market access for Swiss businesses in India but is set to improve the legal framework and predictability for them, the Swiss government said on Sunday.

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States -- Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland -- signed a Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) with India that came after around 16 years of negotiations.

Under the mega trade pact, the four European countries are looking at making an investment of USD 100 billion in India over the next 15 years.

The trade deal will provide a window to Indian exporters to access large European and global markets besides allowing companies from the four EFTA countries to expand businesses and investment in India.

Hours after the deal was sealed, Switzerland said its parliamentary approval process for the TEPA will be initiated immediately so that the country can ratify the agreement by 2025 at the latest.

'The signing of the agreement between the countries of the European Free Trade Association and India after 16 years of negotiations is a significant milestone in Swiss trade policy,' the Swiss government said in a statement.

It said India currently levies very high import tariffs on most products.

'Under the FTA, India will lift or partially remove customs tariffs on 95.3 per cent of industrial imports from Switzerland (excluding gold) either immediately or with transition periods,' it said.

The statement said Switzerland will also have tariff-free access to the Indian market for selected agricultural products after a transition period of up to 10 years.

'This will strengthen the competitiveness of Swiss exports to India.

Switzerland's concessions to India for agricultural products are based on previous free trade agreements and are in line with Swiss agricultural policy, it said.

'In addition, improvements have been made to intellectual property rights, in particular with regard to legal certainty, patent procedures and the protection of 'Swissness'. This will not restrict access to medicines in India,' it said.

'The FTA not only opens up broad market access for Swiss business players but also improves the legal framework, legal certainty and predictability,' it added.

The Swiss government said the agreement contains a comprehensive and legally binding chapter on trade and sustainable development.

'This will enable the EFTA states in particular to address trade-related sustainability considerations,' it said.

'Another chapter covers the promotion of investments in India by companies from the EFTA states. This is in response to India's keen interest in attracting additional investment from companies from Switzerland and other EFTA states,' it said.

The bloc committed an investment of USD 100 billion -- USD 50 billion within 10 years after the implementation of the agreement and another USD 50 billion in the next five years - which would facilitate the creation of one million direct jobs in India. This is a first-of-its-kind pledge agreed upon in any of the trade deals signed by India so far.

India's domestic customers will get access to high-quality Swiss products such as watches, chocolates, biscuits, and clocks at lower prices as it will phase out customs duties under the trade pact on these goods over 10 years.

India will also provide duty concessions on certain production-linked incentive sectors like pharma, medical devices and processed food.

Sectors such as dairy, soya, coal and sensitive agricultural products are kept on the exclusion list and there will not be any duty concessions on these goods. PTI MPB RT RT

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