EFTA hopes to complete free trade talks with India this year

Source: Business Standard

15 January 2014

EFTA, 4-member grouping that includes Switzerland, hopes to complete negotiations with India on a free trade pact this year.

Other members of the European Free Trade Association are:Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The Swiss government said today that “2014 is expected to see the completion of the negotiations on free trade agreements (FTAs) between EFTA and Guatemala, India and the members of the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union”.

In the executive summary of its ‘Foreign Economic Policy Report 2013’, Switzerland noted that it would continue negotiations on new FTAs with various countries.

On negotiations with India last year, the report said that balancing of interests and making allowance for the global value added chains are proving to be a growing challenge.

Switzerland would continue to further extend market access secured by agreements besides advocating action against protectionist trends and measures, it said.

Last year, the country concluded FTAs with China. Within the EFTA framework, it entered into pacts with Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as with Costa Rica and Panama.

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, in November, had said that free trade agreements promote growth and wealth.

Switzerland and other EFTA partners “can negotiate quickly, with a high degree of flexibility and with a special focus on the most dynamic economies in the world – many of whom are in Asia,” he had said.

Touching upon tax matters, the report released today said that Switzerland would be engaged in the implementation of OECD action plan against the erosion of the tax base and against profit sharing.

In November, OECD’s global forum on transparency and the exchange of information on tax matters came out with a comprehensive list of jurisdictions that are compliant with global tax laws.

“Switzerland is a member of the forum and attended the meeting but it was the only OECD country not to be listed because it does not yet satisfy the formal qualifications. However, Switzerland was not isolated nor was it made the target of public criticism again,” the report said.

Switzerland is yet to be rated on this scale as the country signed a global convention on automatic exchange of information on tax issues only in October last year.

As per the OECD list, 18 jurisdictions are rated ‘Compliant’, 26 are rated ‘Largely Compliant’, two are ‘Partially Compliant’ and four are ‘Non-Compliant’.

Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) sets global tax standards.

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