India has recently inked a significant free trade agreement (FTA) with a cluster of four European nations known as the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), comprising Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. This deal, hailed by India's trade minister, promises investments worth a staggering $100 billion into India's economy.

The negotiations leading to this landmark pact spanned nearly 16 years, culminating in an agreement where India agrees to slash most import tariffs on industrial goods from the EFTA nations in exchange for substantial investments over a span of 15 years. These investments are anticipated to span various sectors, including pharmaceuticals, machinery, and manufacturing, among others.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his enthusiasm for this development, highlighting its potential to foster economic progress and create opportunities for the youth. While the deal awaits ratification by both India and the EFTA nations, it signifies a significant step towards enhancing market access and streamlining customs procedures, facilitating smoother business operations for enterprises in both India and the EFTA member states.

The timing of this agreement is crucial, as India gears up for general elections this year, with Prime Minister Modi eyeing a historic third term in office. Amidst this backdrop, India has been actively pursuing trade agreements, having recently sealed deals with Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, discussions between the UK and India for a free trade deal have been ongoing for the past two years. While there were speculations that a deal might be finalized before India's elections, UK Trade Minister Kemi Badenoch acknowledged the challenges involved, emphasizing the need to prioritize the quality and substance of any potential agreement over meeting electoral deadlines.