Piyush Goyal to visit Switzerland to take forward EFTA commitments

New Delhi: Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal Wednesday said the four-member European nation bloc European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is keen to invest in India and the domestic industry should take advantage of that opportunity. Goyal, who is visiting Switzerland on Sunday to take forward the EFTA commitments, said that this $100 billion commitment is for foreign direct investments and not portfolio investments.

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland comprise the EFTA.

In March, India and EFTA signed a free trade agreement under which New Delhi received an investment commitment of $100 billion in 15 years from the grouping while allowing several products such as Swiss watches, chocolates and cut and polished diamonds at lower or zero duties.

“I (India) can withdraw concessions given in the FTA if they (EFTA) do not fulfil the (investment) commitments,” Goyal said at the FICCI National Executive Committee Meeting.

“The excitement that I am finding in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland makes me believe that we could actually exceed that (commitment) if we all are more forthcoming. They will look for Indian partners and investors,” he said.

On the sidelines of the event, he said the initial comments made by the UK government are very encouraging and the Labour Party is deeply committed as is the Modi government.Emphasising that a new government has just been formed in the UK, Goyal said: “The initial comments made by the UK government are very encouraging….my counterpart had a meeting when he was a shadow trade minster”.Imports, compliances
The minister said that the target of achieving $2 trillion goods and services exports by 2030 is “doable and achievable” and given the pace of India’s economic growth, the country will become the third largest economy in about four years.

Asking industry to shy away from importing those goods which are manufactured and are available in India, he said: “We all have to care for each other”.

He said the industry should also increase use of electric vehicles to help lower the import bill on crude oil.

“It will boost the economy. Oil is the largest imported commodity in the country and the government is deeply committed to bringing our dependence on crude oil down,” he said.

The minister also asked the industry to share their views on further reducing the compliance burden.

After making a law to promote ease of business by decriminalising minor offences through amendments in 183 provisions of 42 Acts, the ministry has started working on Jan Vishwas Bill 2.0.

“Share ideas on that. A lot more needs to be done. We do need your active participation,” he said, adding the ministry is also trying to clean Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization.

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