This was the clear message from the Minister of Trade and Industry, Monica Mæland. In a meeting this week, she gave us a valuable update on the still ongoing EFTA-India Trade agreement negotiations.
“We have achieved good conditions”, Ms. Mæland said.
On the other hand, as stated by the Minister on the recent Business Conference at NHO “Norway is willing to give extraordinary good conditions to Indian businesses operating in Norway”.
No doubt the trade agreement will considerably charge the economic cooperation between our two countries. It will ease the entry for Norwegian products, services and investment into an enormous emerging Indian market. And, our Indian NICCI members will obviously benefit from better conditions operating in Norway.
6 years of EFTA-India negotiations
The trade agreement with India is negotiated together with our 3 partners in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) -Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland. Teaming up with our EFTA partners enable us to negotiate terms similar to our large international competitors, as the EU. It has taken 6 years and 13 rounds of official negotiations. In NICCI we truly welcome a breakthrough, a firm signature, and even more wind in the Norway-India sails.
With the state visit fresh in mind, we all know Norway also has strong direct relations to India and considerable bilateral agreements.
The WTO drama solved?
It’s worth mentioning that also on the highest international trade-level, it has been more than dramatic the last months, with India blocking the finalization of WTO’s ground breaking international agreement -on easing trade regulations. The World Trade Organization consists of 160 countries, India and the 4 EFTA countries among them. While writing this article, strong signs indicate that India and USA has made an agreement taking India’s concerns about food- stockpiling and subsidies into consideration. So, can we expect a signed agreement first half of December?
Monica Mæland will visit India soon
Going back to our meeting at the Ministry of Trade and Fisheries this week, Monica Mæland promised she will visit India soon, to contribute to keep up the speed of the already faster moving Norway-India cooperation. The time is not decided, but we understand that first quarter 2015 is not unlikely.
Our own Chair, Ms. Rina Sunder wanted to know if a Norwegian business delegation would accompany her to India. The minister confirmed that to be likely.
Finally, Ms. Mæland assured us that “It’s particularly important to conclude the agreement with India now, it has our highest priority”.
Celebration spring 2015?
Knowing that next time the EFTA ministers meet is on the 17th November in Genève, can we expect the final bricks to be laid, and hope for an agreement to celebrate spring 2015?
Written by: Trond Skundberg