Excitement in EFTA nations for investments in India; leaving for Switzerland on Sunday: Goyal

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New Delhi, Jul 10 (PTI) Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday said the four-member European nation bloc EFTA is keen to invest in India, and the domestic industry should take advantage of the opportunity.

On March 10, India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) signed a free trade agreement, under which New Delhi received an investment commitment of USD 100 billion over 15 years from the grouping while allowing several products like Swiss watches, chocolates and cut and polished diamonds at lower or zero duties.

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

Goyal said he would be leaving for Switzerland on Sunday to take forward the EFTA commitments.

This USD 100 billion commitment is for foreign direct investments and not portfolio investments, he added.

"First time in history, an FTA has gone into investments and jobs. I (India) can withdraw concessions given in the FTA if they (EFTA) do not fulfil the (investment) commitments.

"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 here at an industry event.

As per the provisions of the agreement, India will have the option of temporarily withdrawing customs duty concessions on EFTA country goods under the trade agreement between the two sides, if the four-nation bloc would not fulfil its USD 100 billion investment obligations.

Though the investments have to flow in 15 years -- USD 50 billion in the first 10 years (counted after implementation of the pact) and another USD 5 billion in the next five years, the trade deal also provides for a three-year grace period to the EFTA bloc to meet the obligations, according to the agreement documents.

Further talking about the country's exports, Goyal said the target of taking the goods and services exports to USD 2 trillion by 2030 is "doable and achievable".

He added that given the pace of the country's economic growth, India will become the third-largest economy in about four years.

The minister also suggested 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 that the ministry is also trying to clean the system of the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO).

The minister also asked the industry to stay away from importing those goods that are manufactured and available in India.

"We all have to care for each other," he said.

He added that the industry should also increase the use of electric vehicles as it would help cut import bills 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. PTI RR CS SGC RR BAL BAL