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Free trade agreement with India on hold

Talks on a free trade deal could restart in the autumn Keystone

The Indian government has suspended negotiations with Switzerland over a free trade agreement. The talks are on hold until a new government is in place and at least until autumn according to a Sunday newspaper.

This content was published on February 23, 2014 - 14:24
swissinfo.ch and agencies

A spokesperson for the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper, “The Indian side informed the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries that they did not see themselves as being in a position to bring the agreement to a close before the announcement of an election date by the Indian Election Commission”.

A date for the election is expected to be announced at the beginning of March.

SECO told swissinfo.ch that after the date is announced, the current Indian government is “no longer authorised to take important decisions”. They added that the EFTA countries and India had arranged to continue negotiations on a “technical level…in particular with a view to a possible continuation of negotiations under the new Indian government”.

The newspaper reported that India has abandoned a concession on special quotas for IT specialists, as Switzerland’s vote on February 9 in favour of quotas on immigration, which includes foreign contracts, will severely complicate this.

The paper goes on to say that India sees Switzerland as being weak on an international level at the moment and that the country is counting on being in a stronger position for negotiations in the autumn.

There had already been mixed reactions within Switzerland to the potential agreement.

The pharmaceutical industry has raised concerns over sufficient patent protection measures within the deal, while industry associations such as Swissmem, were keen for the agreement to go ahead due to the low import tariffs and taxes.

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