India-EFTA members to resume trade deal talks in January 2017

India-EFTA members to resume trade deal talks in January 2017

India and the EFTA members to resume talks on the long-stalled proposed free trade agreement, the agreement is important as it will give market access to several sectors from India such as textiles and chemicals. Senior officials of the four-nation bloc will visit New Delhi in mid-January 2017, to iron out differences related with the pact, an official said

The four EFTA, the European Free Trade Association members are Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

In October, Indian officials visited Geneva for the deliberations. Negotiators of both the sides would discuss issues such as IPR Intellectual Property Rights, the number of goods on which duties will either be eliminated or reduced significantly.

EFTA wants India to commit more in IPR in the agreement, which is officially dubbed as Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA). They were also demanding for data exclusivity, which India is completely opposed to.

Both sides had earlier expressed willingness to jointly address the major outstanding issues and agreeing to an early resumption of negotiations and concluding a balanced agreement in a time-bound manner.

The two way trade between the regions stood at USD 21.5 billion in 2015-16 as against USD 24.5 billion in the previous fiscal. The trade gap is highly in favour of the EFTA group.

The trade pact talks had started in October 2008. So far, 14 rounds of negotiations have been held at the level of chief negotiators. The proposed pact covers trade in goods and services, market access for investments, protection of intellectual property and public procurement.

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