New Delhi’s Free-Trade Momentum Continues with European Deal

India is inking a new trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association, a grouping of four non-EU economies: Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. Once the deal is in force, India will lift tariffs on most industrial products in exchange for about US$100 billion in investment over 15 years. The Swiss government noted that the agreement “contains a comprehensive and legally binding chapter on trade and sustainable development.” 

New Delhi also recently concluded trade agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Australia and is in the final stages of negotiation with the U.K., although progress on the latter may be stalled as India edges closer to its April-May national elections. 

A Canada-India agreement has been in the works since 2010, and despite being flagged for priority in Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, progress hit a major roadblock in September 2023 when Ottawa paused the proceedings after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced “credible allegations” that agents with links to the Indian government were responsible for killing a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil. 

On February 24, Canadian International Trade Minister Mary Ng confirmed that talks were ongoing, but declined to specify which conditions needed to be met on the Indian side for the process to resume.