Kolkata, Dec 19 (UNI) Swiss Ambassador to India Dominique Dreyer today said the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) comprising four European nations, including Switzerland, would soon start negotiations for Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India.
Talking to reporters after an interactive session with the Merchants' Chamber of Commerce members here, he said the joint study groups of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, the members of the EFTA, had already submitted their reports last month for consultations, and negotiations on FTA with India would start from next month.
Mr Dreyer said there was about 125 per cent growth in trade between India and Switzerland and still growing.
He said the trade would go up to ten million Swiss Franc by 2010 from the present 2.5 million.
Mr Dreyer stated that the present aid to India amounting 30 million Swiss Franc could come down to ten million Swiss Franc from next year.
The Swiss diplomat said over the years there were positive talks between the Indian and Switzerland Governments for common business interests like tourism, trade, textile, education, BPO and knowledge-based industries, which had showed that the two countries were coming closer.
Giving an instance of growing businesses, he said flow of tourists had increased with the recent introduction of a direct flight between Delhi and Zurich.
He said soon a Swiss Consulate office would be set up in Bangalore and UBS Bank would set up its office in India.
To a question on the joining of his country with the European Union (EU), the diplomat said though the Swiss people in general were against it, but he believed Swizerland should join the EU.
By staying out from the EU, his country was being deprived of many advantages. He, however, said the governmnet could not do anything unless the people voted for EU by a referendum, he added.
To another question, Mr Dreyer said the Swiss Bank was an independent functionary and it would not be affected if at all Swizerland joined the EU.
MCC president Atul Churiwal said though India and Switzerland have different views on a number of issues in WTO, still he appreciated his country's support to India which had demanded braoder access to agricultural goods from developing countries to the world markets.
He also expresed happiness for an MOU signed between India and Switzerland on protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).