Home » Cheaper Swiss watches, chocolates: How India-EFTA trade pact will benefit Indians – Times of India

Cheaper Swiss watches, chocolates: How India-EFTA trade pact will benefit Indians – Times of India

Cheaper Swiss watches, chocolates: How India-EFTA trade pact will benefit Indians – Times of India

NEW DELHI: India on Sunday signed a trade and economic partnership agreement with the four-nation European free Trade Association (EFTA) to boost trade and investments between the two regions. Under this trade pact, EFTA commits 100 billion dollar investment in India for the next 15 years.
After a hiatus of nearly 16 years, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members—Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland—finally reached an agreement.Negotiations, initiated in 2008, were halted in November 2013 but resumed in October 2016. Over 21 rounds of negotiations, the parties worked towards their conclusion. This agreement marks a milestone in FTA history, as it includes a dedicated legal commitment to promoting targeted investment and job creation.

‘Watershed moment’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the signing of the trade agreement as a ‘Watershed moment’, underscoring a collective dedication to fostering open, fair, and equitable trade.
“The Tenth of March 2024 marks a new turn and a watershed moment in the bilateral relationship between India and EFTA countries,” PM Modi said.
He said the global leadership of the four nations in innovation, R&D across diverse areas such as digital trade, banking and financial services, transport and logistics, industrial machinery, biotechnology, pharma, chemicals, food processing, and clean energy, will open up new doors of collaboration.
“Heartiest Congratulations and best wishes to the negotiators and signatories involved in the signing of India-EFTA Trade and Economic Participation Agreement (TEPA),” Modi said in a written message.

How will it benefit Indians?

After signing this trade agreement with EFTA, the government will phase out custom duties on imported goods over a period of time which will enable the domestic consumers to access high-quality Swiss products such as watches, chocolates, biscuits, and clocks at lower prices.
According to an analysis of the TEPA documents by economic think tank Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI), India has allowed tariff concessions to a number of products imported from Switzerland under the agreement.
Goods including seafood like tuna and salmon, mediterranean fruits, coffee, different oils, variety of sweets and processed foods and wine will witness price drop in Indian markets.
Other products that are covered are watches, smartphones, ,bicycle parts, medical equipment, clocks, , medicines, dyes, textiles, apparel, iron and steel products, and machinery equipment
“India will soon have access to high-quality Swiss products at lower prices because it has decided to remove tariffs on many Swiss goods over seven to ten years,” news agency PTI quoted GTRI founder Ajay Srivastava as saying.
“Wines priced between $5 and less than $15 will see a duty reduction from 150 per cent to 100 per cent in the first year, then decreasing gradually to 50 per cent over 10 years,” Srivastava added.
Srivastava further said that tariffs on cut and polished diamonds will be reduced from 5 per cent to 2.5 per cent in five years after the implementation of the agreement.
Notably, India has offered no effective tariff concession on gold. Although India agreed on one per cent concession on the bound rate of 40 percent, the effective duty remains at 15 per cent, resulting in no real benefit.
India’s main imports from Switzerland include gold ($12.6 billion), machinery ($409 million), pharmaceuticals ($309 million), coking and steam coal ($380 million), optical instruments and orthopaedic appliances ($296 million), watches ($211.4 million), soybean oil ($202 million), and chocolates ($7 million).
(With inputs from agency)