Signing of free trade agreement with India

Bern, 10.03.2024 - On 10 March Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and his counterparts from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway signed a free trade agreement with Indian Trade Minister Piyush Goyal in Delhi. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swiss President Viola Amherd sent video messages for the signing ceremony.

The signing of the agreement between the countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and India after 16 years of negotiations is a significant milestone in Swiss trade policy. This makes Switzerland and the other EFTA states the first European partner to conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) with India.

Most tariffs on industrial products to be lifted

India is now the most populous country in the world. The growing middle class in particular is contributing to major growth potential. However, India currently levies very high import tariffs on most products. Under the FTA, India will lift or partially remove customs tariffs on 95.3% of industrial imports from Switzerland (excluding gold) either immediately or with transition periods.

Switzerland will also have tariff-free access to the Indian market for selected agricultural products after a transition period of up to ten years. This will strengthen the competitiveness of Swiss exports to India. Switzerland's concessions to India for agricultural products are based on previous free trade agreements and are in line with Swiss agricultural policy.

Greater legal certainty for Swiss firms

In addition, improvements have been made to intellectual property rights, in particular with regard to legal certainty, patent procedures and the protection of ‘Swissness'. This will not restrict access to medicines in India.

The FTA not only opens up broad market access for Swiss business players but also improves the legal framework, legal certainty and predictability.

Promotion of sustainable development and investment

The agreement contains a comprehensive and legally binding chapter on trade and sustainable development. This will enable the EFTA states in particular to address trade-related sustainability considerations.

Another chapter covers the promotion of investments in India by companies from the EFTA states. This is in response to India's keen interest in attracting additional investment from companies from Switzerland and other EFTA states.

Ratification by Parliament

The parliamentary approval process will be initiated immediately so that Switzerland can ratify the agreement by 2025 at the latest.

Scope of free trade agreement

The FTA with India covers a wide range of sectors. It contains provisions on trade in industrial goods and in processed and unprocessed agricultural products. Other provisions relate to technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, rules of origin, trade facilitation, trade in services, investment promotion, protection of intellectual property, competition, public procurement (development clause), dispute settlement and trade and sustainable development.

Media briefing in Switzerland

A media briefing on the FTA with India will be held with Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin at the Federal Palace Media Centre at 9.30am on Monday 11 March.

Address for enquiries

EAER Communications
Tel 058 462 20 07


Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research