India-EFTA trade pact: Norway confident of progress in talks

27 Apr 2015

Source: Business Line

Norway is hopeful of progress in talks between India and EFTA member countries on a trade and economic partnership agreement, visiting Norwegian Minister for European Union Affairs Vidar Helgesen has said.

“A trade and economic partnership agreement (between India and EFTA) is very much on the table and not off the radar,” Helgesen toldBusinessLine after a meeting with Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Capital on Monday.

Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway are the four-member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) grouping. Talks were more or less put on hold after the elections in India in May last year when the new BJP-led government assumed office.

However, there could now be some move forward with the Swiss Chief negotiator expected to soon visit New Delhi.

Investor interest

Helgesen said there was considerable interest among Norwegian companies to trade as well as invest in India given its huge market size.

Trade ties could get a boost once the India-EFTA trade and economic partnership agreement came into effect, said Helgesen, who is also the Chief of Staff at the Prime Minister’s Office in Norway. He is being accompanied by a delegation comprising business leaders from the Norwegian maritime, infrastructure, ICT telecom and renewable energy sectors.

Helgesen attended the Norway-Asia Business Summit, which was held for the first time in India.

Asked about his meeting with Commerce Minister Sitharaman, he said that both shared aspirations of moving forward on the trade and economic cooperation agreement.

“The takeaway for me from today’s meeting is that India is committed to this and we expect to move forward in the coming days,” Helgesen said.

(This article was published on April 20, 2015)
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