India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries, which include Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, are likely to sign a long-negotiated bilateral free trade agreement on March 10, aimed at increasing trade and investment flows, job creation and economic growth, according to multiple sources.

Also read: India seeks greater market access, flexibilities in rules of origin in FTA review with ASEAN

The proposed free trade agreement, officially called the India-EFTA Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA), is expected to lead to flow of investments worth $100 billion from the four-country bloc into India over the next 15 years generating an estimated one million jobs, officials said.

“The India-EFTA TEPA is expected to be signed on Sunday (March 10) as government officials and industry representatives from all EFTA countries and India have been informed accordingly,” an industry source pointed out.

Trade Ministers from some of the EFTA countries are also likely to be present for the signing of the TEPA, a representative of an EFTA country told businessline.

Indian officials had indicated recently, as reported in businessline, that the India-EFTA TEPA may be signed shortly since the pact “is ready” and going through legal scrutiny.

This is the first FTA for India where it has been able to get a commitment on investment and employment from the partner nations, an official had said. The EFTA countries are looking at investing in joint ventures in areas such as pharmaceuticals, especially medical devices, certain chemicals, food processing and engineering products.

The trade pact with EFTA is also likely to bring down the huge trade deficit India has with the bloc, officials said. India’s exports to the EFTA block in 2023 (calendar year) was at $1.87 billion, with items such as  chemicals, pharmaceuticals, apparel and pearls, precious & semi-precious stones, dominating the export basked. 

On the other hand, it imported goods worth $20.45 billion from the EFTA countries in 2023 with inflows of pearls, precious or semi-precious stones, precious metals and coins valued at $16.7 billion.

The signing of the India-EFTA TEPA is likely to give a boost to India’s ongoing FTA negotiations with other partners such as the EU and the UK, as it would indicate that it was possible to close deals with India.

Also read: India does not rush to conclude FTA talks: Goyal

India and EFTA countries re-started their negotiations for a free trade pact in October 2016. The various chapters contained in the proposed pact include trade in goods, rules of origin, trade in services, investment promotion & cooperation, trade & sustainable development, customs & trade facilitation.

The promised investments that will flow into India from the EFTA countries is likely to be made from their provident funds, the official said.