Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Even as an economic cooperation agreement with the European Union is in the offing, India on Wednesday announced that it would expand its free trade regime in Europe by exploring the possibilities of similar pacts with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), comprising Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

According to an official release here, a joint study group between India and EFTA has already been set up and its first meeting is to be held in April.

This was disclosed at a meeting of the India-Swiss Joint Economic Commission held earlier this week in Zurich.

While Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are members of the EFTA, which was set up in 1960, the first three nations have also entered into an agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) which came into force in 1994.

The release noted that Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Kamal Nath, had a meeting with the Swiss Minister of Economy and Federal Councillor, Doris Leuthard, on Tuesday.

During the discussions, the two countries agreed to augment cooperation in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Geographical Indications (GI).

The discussions also covered cooperation in air services between the two countries, the release said.