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India free trade talks to intensify

A free trade agreement with India should be concluded by the end of the year, according to Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann.

Commenting at the start of a three-day business and trade tour of India, Schneider-Ammann said negotiations for the agreement, under the auspices of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), would intensify in the coming months.

Indian Trade and Industry Minister Anand Sharma affirmed his country’s willingness for such an agreement, while making clear it would prefer a multilateral trade agreement with the World Trade Organization.

Both ministers declined to comment on potential sticking points for the agreement such as intellectual property rights in India, particularly in relation to the country’s mass production of generic pharmaceuticals.

Schneider-Ammann also held closed door meetings with Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, during which India raised questions about the progress of the Double Taxation Agreement which has yet to be approved by the Swiss parliament.

Schneider-Ammann said the matter of black market rupees hidden in Swiss banks had not been raised with him. and agencies


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