Kamal Nath launches India-EFTA joint negotiations

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Davos, Switzerland, Jan 26 (UNI) Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath today expressed the hope that India and EFTA states would set the tone for a greater economic engagement between mature and developed economies for deriving benefits from greater trade and investment opportunities.

Launching negotiations for a proposed broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement between India and EFTA States in Davos, Switzerland, here, the Minister expressed satisfaction over the present trade but stated that full potential needs to be exploited.

An India-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Joint Study Group (JSG) was established on December 1, 2006. The JSG was tasked to undertake a comprehensive view of bilateral economic linkages between India and EFTA States (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein) and to recommend measures to strengthen the economic engagement. It was also tasked to explore the feasibility of a bilateral broad based trade and investment agreement. 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 concluded that both sides would significantly benefit from a bilateral broad-based trade and investment agreement. 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 and negotiate the proposed broad based Trade and Investment Agreement between India and EFTA States.

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