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Indian Govt is looking for dealing with EU countries that could draw $100 billion investment

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NEW DELHI : India is about to finalise a first-of-its-kind trade deal that could see a small group of European nations invest as much as $100 billion over 15 years in exchange for easier trade access to the world’s most populous nation, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The European Free Trade Association, which comprises Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, made a commitment to invest in India as part of a trade pact that’s in the final stages of negotiations, the people said, asking not to be identified as the talks are still ongoing.

The contours of the deal have been agreed and deliberations currently center on the final investment amount, which could be as much as $100 billion over 15 years, some of the people said. While India wants the commitment to be legally binding, one of the European officials said the amount will likely be framed as a goal, with no legal means to claim it included in the language of the agreement.

If finalised, it would mark the first time an investment commitment of this nature is secured by India as part of a free trade agreement.

Switzerland’s Economy Minister Guy Parmelin said last month that the outline of a deal had been agreed upon, without giving details. Legal clarifications are currently being rushed so the deal can be signed before India holds elections likely from April, a European official with knowledge of the matter said. 

The Swiss economy ministry said in a statement that the text of the agreement is “still to be finalised and both parties have agreed not to disclose the details at this stage.” The main points where agreement has been reached include “patent protection, which was controversial in the past, as well as a new type of investment promotion chapter,” it said.

Norway’s government declined to comment on the terms of the deal.

Trade Bloc 

Switzerland is by far India’s largest commercial partner among the members of the EFTA bloc, which comprises European nations which are not members of the European Union. Swiss two-way trade with India amounted to $17.14 billion in the 2022-23 fiscal year, out of $18.66 billion with the whole group.

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