New Delhi: Swiss Minister for Economic Affairs Johann N Schneider-Ammann will hold talks with India’s trade and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Davos next week, during the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) summit, on efforts to conclude the long-pending (European Free Trade Association) EFTA free trade agreements.
India and the EFTA, a bloc of four European countries including Switzerland, had agreed in June to resolve the outstanding issues for resumption of long-stalled negotiations for their proposed free trade agreement. Subsequently, talks resumed in October in Geneva and an EFTA team is expected to visit India soon for further discussions.
Ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in the Swiss ski resort town of Davos, Switzerland said that Johann Schneider-Ammann, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), will hold talks there on efforts to conclude EFTA free trade agreements with India, Malaysia and Vietnam.
In this regard, he will meet with the trade and industry ministers of the three countries – Nirmala Sitharaman, Mustapa Mohamed and Tran Tuan Anh, the Swiss government said in a statement. The talks on this trade pact began way back in October 2008.
Mr Schneider-Ammann, his partners from EFTA and representatives from the MERCOSUR states of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay will also sign a joint declaration. This will announce the end of exploratory talks on a free trade agreement between EFTA and MERCOSUR.
On January 20, he will host the traditional informal WTO ministerial meeting, with around 30 participants, which will work towards concrete results at the upcoming 11th ministerial conference in Buenos Aires in December.
Each year, the WEF summit brings together leading figures from business and politics for informal and formal exchanges in Davos. This year, six members of the Switzerland Federal Council will hold as many as 60 bilateral meetings.
President Doris Leuthard, head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), will open the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 17 together with Chinese President XI Jinping and WEF Founder Klaus Schwab.
Over the following days the president will speak with heads of government including Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern. He will also hold bilateral meetings with Columbian president Juan Manuel Santos, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.
He will also meet several other heads of government including Ranil Wickremesinghe (Sri Lanka) and Nawaz Sharif (Pakistan). Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer, head of the Federal Finance Department, will hold numerous meetings during the WEF Annual Meeting with counterparts from various countries, as well as with representatives from international bodies.