India, EFTA meet to resume trade agreement talks

NEW DELHI: Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi affirmed India‘s readiness to resume free trade agreement (FTA) talks with European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the two sides met on Friday to resolve major outstanding issues for an early resumption of negotiations and concluding a balanced agreement in a time-bound manner.

“We had a stock taking meeting with them which went off very well… Our data is three years old and we will work on that. We will meet again after stakeholder meetings here,” said an official in the know.

The India-EFTA Trade & Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) negotiations had started in October, 2008. So far, 13 rounds of negotiations have been held at the level of chief negotiators. The last round of negotiations was held in November, 2013 and thereafter the negotiations had remained suspended.

While the agreement is to have chapters on trade in goods & services, investment, IPR, competition, government procurement, among others, talks were stuck on IPR related issues such as data safety.

“We will try to work in the contours already decided for the agreement,” the official said.

EFTA is limited to four countries – Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. These countries are not part of the European Union (EU) with which India is negotiating a separate trade agreement called the India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement or BTIA.

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