India, European Free Trade Association launch negotiations

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Davos, Switzerland, Jan 26 (UNI) Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath today launched negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) for a broad-based trade and investment agreement.

Mr Nath, in his opening remarks, expressed the hope that India and EFTA states would set the tone for a closer economic engagement between mature and developing economies for deriving benefits from greater trade and investment opportunities.

EFTA comprises four countries namely Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The Minister is here to participate in the World Economic Forum meetings here.

The negotiations for EFTA were launched on the sidelines of the main event.

The Minister expressed satisfaction over the present trade but stated that full potential needs to be exploited.

An India-EFTA Joint Study Group (JSG) was established on December 1, 2006, which would undertake a comprehensive view of bilateral economic linkages to recommend measures to strengthen the economic engagement.

The JSG has since met four times and has submitted its report to the governments of India and EFTA States.

Based on the study of bilateral economic linkages between India and the EFTA States, the JSG concluded that both sides should advance their economic relationship by exploiting the potential for enhancing trade and investment flows.

Considering the complementary structure of the economies, the JSG recommended that the governments of the EFTA States and India enter into negotiations for such an agreement.

The recommendations of the JSG have been accepted by India and EFTA States. It has been agreed to constitute a Joint Task Force (JTF) comprising officials from India and EFTA States to monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the JSG.

UNI BJR SR RAI2208

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