TEPA, a modern and ambitious Trade Agreement with EFTA

India and the European Free Trade Association signed a Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement, i.e. TEPA, on March 10.

India has been working on a TEPA with EFTA countries comprising Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the signing of the TEPA with the EFTA States. EFTA is an inter-governmental organization set up in 1960 for the promotion of free trade and economic integration for the benefit of its four Member States.

Read in Hindi: चार यूरोपियन देशों के साथ भारत का महत्वपूर्ण आर्थिक समझौता

Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, says, "TEPA is a modern and ambitious Trade Agreement. For the first time, India is signing an FTA with four developed nations - an important economic bloc in Europe. The agreement will give a boost to Make in India and provide opportunities to a young and talented workforce. The FTA will provide a window to Indian exporters to access large European and global markets."

The agreement comprises 14 chapters with the main focus on market access related to goods, rules of origin, trade facilitation, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, investment promotion, market access on services, intellectual property rights, trade and sustainable development and other legal and horizontal provisions.

EFTA is an important regional group, with several growing opportunities for enhancing international trade in goods and services. EFTA is one important economic block out of the three, other two - the EU and the UK, in Europe. Among EFTA countries, Switzerland is the largest trading partner of India followed by Norway.

EFTA has committed to promote investments to increase the stock of foreign direct investments by USD 100 billion in India in the next 15 years, and to facilitate the generation of one million direct employment in India, through such investments. The investments do not cover foreign portfolio investment.

For the first time in the history of FTAs, a legal commitment is being made to promoting target-oriented investment and creating jobs.

EFTA offers 92.2 percent of its tariff lines which covers 99.6 percent of India’s exports. The EFTA’s market access offer covers 100 per cent of non-agri products and tariff concession on Processed Agricultural Products.

India is offering 82.7 per cent of its tariff lines which covers 95.3 per cent of EFTA exports of which more than 80 per cent import is Gold. The effective duty of Gold remains untouched. Sensitivity related to PLI in sectors such as pharma, medical devices & processed food etc. have been taken while extending offers. Sectors such as dairy, soya, coal and sensitive agricultural products are kept on the exclusion list.

India has offered 105 sub-sectors to the EFTA and secured commitments in 128 from Switzerland, 114 from Norway, 107 from Liechtenstein, and 110 from Iceland.

TEPA would stimulate our services exports in sectors of our key strength and interest such as IT services, business services, personal, cultural, sporting and recreational services, other education services, audio-visual services etc.

Services offered by EFTA include better access through digital delivery of Services, commercial presence and improved commitments and certainty for entry and temporary stay of key personnel.

TEPA has provisions for Mutual Recognition Agreements in Professional Services like nursing, chartered accountants, architects etc.

Commitments related to Intellectual Property Rights in TEPA are at the TRIPS level. The IPR chapter with Switzerland, which has high standards for IPR, shows our robust IPR regime. India’s interests in generic medicines and concerns related to the evergreening of patents have been fully addressed.

India signals its commitment to Sustainable development, inclusive growth, social development and environmental protection Fosters transparency, efficiency, simplification, harmonization and consistency of trade procedures

TEPA will empower our exporters' access to specialized inputs and create a conducive trade and investment environment. This would boost exports of Indian-made goods as well as provide opportunities for the services sector to access more markets.

TEPA provides an opportunity to integrate into EU markets. Over 40 per cent of Switzerland’s global services exports are to the EU. Indian companies can look to Switzerland as a base for extending their market reach to the EU.

TEPA will give impetus to ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ by encouraging domestic manufacturing in sectors such as Infrastructure and Connectivity, Manufacturing, Machinery, Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals, Food Processing, Transport and Logistics, Banking and Financial Services and Insurance.

TEPA would accelerate the creation of a large number of direct jobs for India’s young aspirational workforce, including better facilities for vocational and technical training. TEPA also facilitates technology collaboration and access to world-leading technologies in precision engineering, health sciences, renewable energy, Innovation and R&D.