What is EFTA?
EFTA is an intergovernmental organization that was established in 1960 as an alternative trade bloc for those European states that were unable or unwilling to join the European Union (EU).
- EFTA comprises Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, which are not part of the EU but have access to its single market through various agreements.
EFTA is India’s 9th largest trading partner, accounting for about 2.5% of India’s total merchandise trade in 2020-21.
- The main items of India’s exports to EFTA are textiles, chemicals, gems, jewellery, machinery, and pharmaceuticals.
- The main items of India’s imports from EFTA are machinery, chemicals, precious metals, and medical instruments.
How are India’s Relations with EFTA Countries?
India and Switzerland Relations:
- An inter-governmental framework agreement on technical and scientific cooperation was signed, leading to the launch of the Indo-Swiss Joint Research Programme
- Skill training collaboration between both countries is facilitated through institutes such as the Bharatiya Skill Development Campus and University, the Indo-Swiss Centre of Excellence in Pune, and the Vocational Training Center in Andhra Pradesh.
- Switzerland is the 12th largest investor in India, accounting for 1.07% of total FDI in India from April 2000 to September 2019.
India and Norway Relations:
- In 2020, they inaugurated the India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy for Sustainable Development.
- More than 100 Norwegian companies have established themselves in India.
- The Norwegian Pension Fund Global is one of India’s largest single foreign investors.
- Academic collaborations exist between the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and the Institute of Wind Energy in Chennai with institutions in Norway.
- The Norwegian company, Piql, was involved in creating a digital archive for Indian monuments.
India and Iceland Relations:
- India and Iceland established diplomatic relations in 1972 and have strengthened their ties since 2005 with high-level visits and exchanges.
- India and Iceland share common values of democracy, rule of law, and multilateralism.
- Iceland supports India’s candidature for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
- India and Iceland cooperate in trade, renewable energy, science and technology, education, culture, and development.
- The two countries have signed several agreements to promote economic cooperation, including a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.
India and Liechtenstein Relations:
- The two countries have friendly relations based on mutual respect and cooperation.
- The bilateral trade between the two countries is modest, amounting to US$ 1.59 million in 2016-17.
- The two countries have exchanged high-level visits to strengthen their ties.
- The two countries have signed agreements to facilitate economic cooperation, such as a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.
- Liechtenstein supports India’s candidature for a permanent seat at the UNSC.