Senior Swiss Official To Visit India For Free-Trade Pact Talks

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Senior Swiss Official To Visit India For Free-Trade Pact Talks

India is Switzerland's third largest trading partner in Asia. (File Photo)

Geneva:  In efforts to resume negotiations on proposed India-EFTA free trade pact, senior Swiss government official Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch will visit India this week.

The announcement was made about the upcoming visit of State Secretary Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch after the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swiss President Schneider-Ammann in Geneva today.

The trade talks between India and Europe Free Trade Association (EFTA) - the grouping of Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein - have been stalled on a host of issues.

In a statement issued after the meeting between PM Modi and Schneider-Ammann, the Swiss government said the President reiterated Switzerland's wish to intensify efforts towards a free trade agreement between the EFTA states and India.

"State Secretary Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, Director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) will travel to India this week in this connection," it noted.

Attributing to Mr Schneider-Ammann, the statement said it is hoped that the visit would mark a further step towards resuming negotiations.

India is Switzerland's third largest trading partner in Asia.

The negotiations on India-EFTA free trade pact have been stuck since November 2013 due to various issues, including those pertaining to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

India-EFTA trade talks were launched in 2008. The proposed pact covers both trade in goods (industrial and agricultural products) and in services, market access for investments, protection of intellectual property and public procurement.

Both the sides have completed over a dozen rounds of talks so far.

Two-way trade between India and EFTA stood at $24.5 billion in 2014-15 as against $22.1 billion in 2013-14.

Both countries share a strong interest in vocational education and training.

"Swiss and Indian institutions are working together on a research programme with the aim of establishing a joint culture of research. There is great potential in climate research, cleantech, air pollution control, sustainable urban development and renewable energies," the statement said.

Besides, the two sides today discussed financial policy matters.

Switzerland and India stressed their shared resolve to take action against tax fraud and tax avoidance and underlined the high quality of their cooperation in this area, it added.

At the meeting, Switzerland was represented by Ms Ineichen-Fleisch and State Secretary at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) Yves Rossier.

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