Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday invited top Swedish companies to invest in India and take part in the country’s flagship initiatives, saying stronger bilateral business relations would augur well for the people of the two countries. Modi had a "productive exchange" of views on bilateral and regional issues with his Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven and called on Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf. India and Sweden decided to strengthen their defence and security cooperation and agreed on an innovation partnership for a 'win-win’ outcome.
Modi held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway and discussed ways to enhance ties in key areas such as trade and investment, and renewable energy. Modi met the leaders of the four Nordic countries on the sidelines of the India-Nordic Summit in Stockholm.
Modi, who held talks with his Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven earlier in the day, was welcomed by children in traditional Indian costume on his arrival at the Stockholm City Hall to attend the Roundtable Meeting with Swedish chief executive officers (CEOs).
Carsten Gronblad, Sweden's trade commissioner to India, said around 30 CEOs or representatives of firms participated in the meeting. The Swedish companies have committed to invest $1.1 billion in India over the next two years, according to media reports.
The companies from Sweden have already invested $1.5 billion in India over the last three years, Gronblad said, according to news agency PTI. This cumulative investment in India over a span of five years is more than that had been done over the last 20 years, he added. The major investors would be the likes of Ikea, AstraZeneca and Volvo trucks, Gronblad said, reported PTI.
In a joint press statement, after his talks with the Swedish Prime Minister, Modi said they focused on how Sweden can help India in its development journey. The two sides have agreed on an innovation partnership and a Joint Action Plan.
Modi further added that India and Sweden have agreed to strengthen their defence and security cooperation, including in areas of defence production and cybersecurity.
On his part, Stefan Lofven lauded India as a "global power" and said the two countries are a "perfect match" and have agreed to work on a security agreement.
Narendra Modi arrived in Sweden on Monday evening to a warm welcome on the first leg of his three-nation tour of Europe that will also see him going to Britain and Germany. He was welcomed by his Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven, who broke protocol to receive him at the airport. The two leaders travelled together in the same vehicle from the airport to the hotel.
This is the first prime ministerial visit from India to Sweden in 30 years after Rajiv Gandhi's visit in 1988.
Modi is in Sweden on the first leg of his five-day foreign tour. He will travel to the United Kingdom (UK) tonight where he will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), besides holding bilateral talks with his British counterpart Theresa May. He will also have a brief stopover in Berlin, Germany, on April 20, while on his way back home.
Here are the top 10 developments of PM Modi’s visit to Sweden:
1. Modi asks Swedish firms to invest in India: Narendra Modi invited top Swedish firms to invest in India and said stronger bilateral business relations would augur well for the people of the two countries.
Prime Minister Modi exhorted top Swedish CEOs to invest in India and participate in flagship initiatives, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
"Sweden remains a valued partner for Make in India initiative. PM Modi highlighted the various investment opportunities in India," a tweet on the PMO handle said.
Talking trade and business ties...top CEOs interact with Prime Ministers @narendramodi and Stefan Löfven. Sweden remains a valued partner for the @makeinindia initiative. PM highlighted the various investment opportunities in India. pic.twitter.com/aj3srazu9k— PMO India (@PMOIndia) April 17, 2018
2. Swedish firms to invest $1.1 billion in India: The Swedish companies have committed to invest $1.1 billion in India over the next two years, according to media reports.
"One of the main messages from the speakers was that they consider India as a very strategic market and that they would like to partner India meeting certain challenges,” said Carsten Gronblad, Sweden's trade commissioner to India, according to news agency PTI.
"If we look at Swedish investments, they are increasing over the last few years. Swedish companies have committed to invest $1.1 billion in India over the next two years," he told PTI.
The major investors would be the likes of Ikea, AstraZeneca and Volvo trucks. IKEA Group CEO Juvencio Maeztu and Saab CEO Hakan Buskhe were among the top business leaders who attended the roundtable.
Volvo shares electric vehicle-vision with Modi: Charles Frump, managing director of Volvo Car India, who attended the meet, said Volvo shared their vision of electrified vehicles with Prime Minister Modi and stated how it was in line with the Indian government's vision, reported PTI. One of the key feedbacks from companies participating was how red-tape can be further reduced, Frump said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes a short walk with the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Lofven from Sager House to Rosenbad, in Stockholm, Sweden
3. India-Denmark bilateral meeting: Modi met Danish Premier Lars Lokke Rasmussen and held talks on renewing and enhancing cooperation. The two leaders expressed their mutual desire to take the relationship forward, Raveesh Kumar said, according to news agency PTI.
After the bilateral meeting between Modi and Rasmussen, documents were exchanged between the two sides in areas of animal husbandry, dairying and urban development.
Series of bilateral meetings with leaders of Nordic countries begin on the sidelines of India-Nordic Summit! PM @narendramodi & PM @larsloekke of Denmark had a good meeting on renewing & enhancing cooperation & expressed their mutual desire to take the relationship forward. pic.twitter.com/wYS7bl2kNE— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) April 17, 2018
4. India-Finland bilateral talks: Modi also had an "excellent meeting" with his Finnish counterpart Juha Sipila. The two leaders discussed enhancing cooperation in trade and investment, renewable energy, space, waste management, start-up and education, Kumar said.
"Fruitful discussions with PM of #India @narendramodi in Stockholm. Recalled our first meeting in Mumbai in 2016 and had concrete negotiations how to promote our co-operation further in energy, space, education," Sipila tweeted after the meeting.
Fruitful discussions with PM of #India @narendramodi in Stockholm. Recalled our first meeting in Mumbai in 2016 and had concrete negotiations how to promote our co-operation further in energy, space, education. Later today Nordic-India Summit. @FinlandinIndia pic.twitter.com/3rJEN7u59b— Juha Sipilä (@juhasipila) April 17, 2018
5. India-Iceland bilateral talks: Modi also met Iceland Premier Katrin Jakobsdottir on the sidelines of the India-Nordic Summit.
"PM urged Icelandic companies to look at India as an investment destination in blue economy and geothermal energy and strengthen cooperation in education, tourism and culture," Kumar said about the meeting between the two leaders.
The two leaders reviewed the full range of India-Iceland relations during their meeting today, the PMO said.
PM @narendramodi and PM of Iceland Katrin Jakobsdottir met on the sidelines of the India-Nordic Summit. PM urged Icelandic companies to look at India as an investment destination in blue economy and geothermal energy and strengthen cooperation in education, tourism and culture. pic.twitter.com/q6QeN7BMRH— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) April 17, 2018
6. India-Norway bilateral meet: Later, Modi also met his Norwegian counterpart Erna Solberg. "A wonderful meeting between PM Erna Solberg of Norway and PM Narendra Modi. India values the deep-rooted friendship with Norway," a tweet on the PMO Twitter handle said.
Prime Minister Modi had an engaging interaction with Nowegian Premier Erna Solberg on trade and investment, shipping and port-development, blue economy, renewable energy, health, IT and green transport solutions, Kumar said.
Leveraging the strength of Norway for our developmental needs! PM @narendramodi had an engaging interaction with Prime Minister of Norway @erna_solberg on trade and investment, shipping and port-development, blue economy, renewable energy, health, IT & green transport solutions. pic.twitter.com/ZNFFwpTF4E— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) April 17, 2018
7. Sweden supports India's bid for NSG membership: Sweden backed India's bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as it welcomed New Delhi's recent accession to the international export control regimes, including Wassenaar Arrangement and Missile Technology Control Regime.
"Prime Minister Lofven welcomed India's recent accession to the international export control regimes, including to Australia Group (AG), Wassenaar Arrangement (WA), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC), and expressed support for India's membership of the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG)," according to Sweden-India Joint Action Plan.
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Sweden also extended support to India's permanent membership of a reformed and expanded United Nations Security Council.
India's membership to the 48-member elite nuclear club is being primarily opposed by China on the pretext that it is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
8. India, Sweden agree to strengthen cooperation on defence: India and Sweden will strengthen their cooperation on defence, Indian Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and his Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven said on Tuesday.
"Sweden and India have agreed to work towards a security agreement allowing us to exchange certain types of classified information required to work together on defence materials," Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said after meeting Mod in Stockholm, according to news agency Reuters. "This agreement would be an important step forward to deepen our bilateral cooperation in the defence domain.”
9. Deal worth $15 billion may be signed: Last week, India issued a request for information on 110 combat jets for Indian Air Force, marking the first step toward a long-delayed deal that could be worth more than $15 billion.
This move could aid Saab, a Swedish aerospace and defence company, in its bid to sell its Gripen jet to replace India's Soviet-era MiG fighters. Lockheed Martin, Saab and Dassault Aviation are among the manufacturers expected to compete for India's fighter jet order. The planes must be largely built locally as part of Narendra Modi's Make in India drive to build a domestic industrial base.
10. India, Sweden to deepen bilateral ties: In an endeavour to further deepen the bilateral ties between the two countries, Sweden said on Tuesday that the country will collaborate with India on its flagship schemes such as Make in India, Smart Cities Mission, Startup India and Digital India.
11. Cybersecurity, free trade also on agenda: Lofven said that a joint action plan has been signed between India and Sweden, wherein the two countries will set up common tasks on cybersecurity. They also agreed to cooperate on renewable energy, urban transport and waste management.
Lofven also spoke about the re-launching of the negotiations on investment protection and free trade under the European Union-India strategic partnership for improving the business climate between the two countries.
12. Sweden to provide Rs 400 million to India for innovation: Speaking on innovation partnership between New Delhi and Stockholm, Lofven said, "Sweden will provide 50 million kronas (approximately Rs 400 million or Rs 40 crore) for innovation corporation with India for the Smart Cities project and for achieving sustainable development. This will also help to facilitate job creation," according to news agency ANI.
Two documents were agreed to between India and Sweden following the delegation-level talks led by PM @narendramodi and @SwedishPM - Innovation Partnership and Joint Action Plan to maximise our bilateral cooperation for the benefit of our people. pic.twitter.com/at137oaIZ0— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) April 17, 2018
13. Modi will leave for UK on Tuesday night: From Sweden, PM Modi will later travel to the UK where he will also attend the CHOGM, besides holding bilateral talks with his British counterpart Theresa May. Modi's visit to the UK will focus on enhancing India-UK tech partnership.
"My visit to London presents another opportunity for both countries to infuse fresh momentum to this growing bilateral engagement. I will be focusing on enhancing India-UK partnership in the areas of healthcare, innovation, digitisation, electric mobility, clean energy, and cybersecurity," Modi said, according to PTI.
In the UK, Modi would call on the Queen, interact briefly with CEOs of the two nations who are working on a new agenda of economic partnership, launch an Ayurveda Centre of Excellence in London, and welcome the UK into the International Solar Alliance, as its newest member.
14. Modi to hold talks on 'Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath': Modi would also interact with the world during his much-talked-about diaspora event, "Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath", which is considered as the most important highlight of the "Living Bridge" theme of the India-UK bilateral visit.
On April 19 and 20, Modi will participate in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting being hosted by the UK, which will take over as the new Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth from Malta.
After concluding his visits to Sweden and the UK, Prime Minister Modi will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin for a brief while, where both the leaders will exchange views on a number of bilateral, regional and global issues.
15. India-Sweden investment history: Sweden has a long history of investments in India. Many of the major Swedish companies such as Ericsson and Swedish Match (WIMCO) entered India even before it became independent. Since then, numerous other Swedish companies such as Atlas Copco, Sandvik, Alfa Laval, Volvo, Astra Zeneca and SAAB have invested in India.
Though the bilateral trade fell to $1.9 billion in 2016-17, as compared to about $2.17 billion in 2015-16, Swedish investments and other economic activities in India have been on the rise. India's exports to Sweden amounted to $710 million, while India's imports from the nordic country totaled $ 1,160 million in 2016-17.
With Agency inputs