India, EFTA trade pact talks begin

Written by Sourav Majumdar | Davos, Jan 26 | Updated: Jan 27 2008, 06:47am hrs
Commerce and industries minister Kamal Nath announced on Saturday that India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) statesIceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtensteinhad agreed to constitute a joint task force (JTF), comprising officials from India and the EFTA states, to negotiate the proposed broad based trade and investment agreement between the two sides.

The announcement came on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008 at Davos. The JTF would also monitor the implementations of the recommendations of an India-EFTA Joint Study Group (JSG) which was established on December 1, 2006. The mandate of the JSG was to undertake a comprehensive review of bilateral economic linkages between India and the EFTA states and to recommend measures to strengthen the economic engagement. It was also tasked to explore the feasibility of a bilateral broadbased trade and investment agreement.

The JSG, Nath announced, had since met four times and has submitted its report to the governments of India and the EFTA states.

The JSG has also 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 trade agreement.

The JSF also recommended that the two sides should enter into negotiations for such an agreement. These recommendations have been accepted by the two sides.