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"India will be world's premier manufacturing, service hub": Swiss Secretary lauds India-EFTA Trade Economic Partnership Agreement

New Delhi: Lauding the USD 100-billion free trade pact between India and the four-nation bloc European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Swiss State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Helene Budliger Artieda, affirmed that India will be world's premier manufacturing and service hub.

She also said that the quality goods from India will get a very open market in Switzerland, adding that the Trade and Economic Partnership

Agreement (TEPA) will also open job opportunities for the Indian youth.

Speaking to ANI, the Swiss Secretary said, "It's a massive moment of joy for us. We've been negotiating this agreement for more than 16 years...I'm completely delighted that we managed to push it through during the past eight months."

"It's momentous for us because of the size of the Indian market. But we're not only betting on the size of the Indian market, we believe in the Indian story," she added.

Affirming that India will be the premier manufacturing and service center of the world, she said that it was important for Switzerland to be among the first group of European countries to sign the agreement with India.

"This is the time of India and we believe that India will be the premier manufacturing and service hub of the world. And so for us, it was truly important that we also came in first, as a group of European countries," she said.

Opening up on the TEPA agreement, Artieda said that Switzerland has granted over 99 per cent of access to Indian goods due to which the Indian goods will find a very open market.

"Switzerland has granted over 99 per cent of access to goods, you can say Switzerland is absolutely open for Indian goods. Swiss people are good consumers, they have high incomes. So any quality good that is coming from India will find a very open Swiss market. Since we have such a divergence in size between our two markets, we have also discussed investment opportunities," the Swiss Secretary said.

She added, "We are traditionally a very large FDI net exporter, India saw that opportunity. We have so many young people who do need jobs.

We have pledged that we will invest...not me personally or the government, but the private sector will come to India and invest 100 billion USD in the next 15 years and will lead to jobs for the Indian youth."

Further listing out some of the most famous products of Switzerland, the Swiss Secretary further said that India will be able to get access to Swiss goods at a much better cost.

"I have been told that chocolates do make happy...Switzerland is a hub for some of these energy drinks. Then I also tried to signal at the press conference, that Swiss watches will also be cheaper. It's not only consumer goods. I think, more important is what Switzerland now can provide to India at a much better cost when it comes to machinery, precision tools, and so on. Switzerland doesn't compete on price, we compete on quality, on innovation," she said.

"For a country such as ours this protectionism is a problem. Wherever I go I meet Swiss companies that have been in far-away markets for more than 100 years. We are happy that we have now managed to conclude this agreement," the Swiss Secretary added.
Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal co-chaired the meeting on the India-EFTA trade agreement in the national capital on Sunday.

He said that "never before in the history of FTAs has such an FTA ever happened" adding that it is very balanced, fair and equitable.

Goyal said that it is a momentous occasion and the signing of the Trade and Economic Participation Agreement with the European Free Trade Association marks the culmination of nearly 15 years of hard work, tremendous energy, and effort.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday congratulated the negotiators and signatories on the signing of the Trade and Economic Participation Agreement (TEPA) between India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), saying that despite structural diversities in many aspects,

"Our economies possess complementarities that promise to be a win-win situation for all nations."

In a letter, PM Modi said that March 10, 2024, marks a new turn and a watershed moment in the bilateral relationship between India and the EFTA countries of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. 

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