Switzerland Signs Free Trade Agreement with India

Complex negotiations lasted 16 years

Guy Parmelin

While major economic powers are increasing their protectionism, it is important for smaller nations like Switzerland to diversify their markets. This was stated by the Swiss federal economic adviser Guy Parmelin after signing a “historic” agreement with India in New Delhi on Sunday, March 10, which will lead to the elimination of a large part of India’s high customs duties. For the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), the signing of the agreement after 16 years of tough negotiations represents “a milestone in the history of Swiss trade policy.”

Switzerland, joined in the mission by Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway (member countries of the European Free Trade Association, EFTA), was the first European country to succeed in concluding an agreement of this type with India, which traditionally applies very high customs duties to most imported products. The agreement comes at a time when India is revitalizing free trade relations, targeting primarily Israel and countries in the Arabian Peninsula. No agreement of this kind has yet been signed, for example, with the European Union.

Thanks to the free trade agreement, the Asian giant will now completely eliminate tariffs or partially liberalize more than 95% of imports of industrial products exported from Switzerland.

Apart from promoting free trade policy, the agreement between Switzerland and India also deals with intellectual property protection, cooperation for sustainable development, and environmental protection. “India is a young nation that needs infrastructure, access to healthcare, and sustainable development,” Councilor Parmelin emphasized. India is positioning itself as one of the great emerging powers and realizes its need for technology from Switzerland and European Free Trade Association countries. The signing of the agreement, as Parmelin finally said, “represents a so-called win-win situation for all parties involved.”