News By Rajesh Sharma
New Delhi 17 April / At the invitation of Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Lofven, Prime Minister of India visited Sweden on 16-17 April 2018. This was Prime Minister’s first visit to Sweden as well as a visit to Sweden by Indian Prime Minister after three decades. On arrival in Stockholm on 16 April, Prime Minister was received by PM Lofven.
On 17 April, Prime Minister had an audience with His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf. King Carl XVI Gustaf visited India earlier in 1993 and 2005. Prime Minister had a meeting with PM Lofven. They met earlier when PM Lofven visited India in February 2016 and participated in the ‘Make in India’ Week in Mumbai with a strong business delegation. In October 2017, PM Lofven participated in ‘Make in India: Sweden 2017’ event organized in Stockholm. Prime Minister’s discussions with PM Lofven focused on strengthening bilateral ties with special emphasis on building closer economic relations as well as important global and regional issues. PM Lofven also hosted a lunch for Prime Minister. On the occasion of the visit, India and Sweden signed a Joint Declaration on India-Sweden Innovation Partnership for a Sustainable Future and adopted a Joint Action Plan. Both Prime Ministers participated in a Round-table meeting with about 30 CEOs of leading Swedish enterprises and addressed the CEOs. Additionally, Leader of Moderate Party & Leader of Opposition in Swedish Parliament, Ulf Kristersson, called on Prime Minister. Ulf Kristersson, who has been in Swedish politics for many years, took over the position of Leader of Opposition in October 2017.
The visit took place at a time when India- Sweden economic ties have strengthened considerably. Over 170 Swedish companies have invested USD 1.4 billion since 2000. Some of the Swedish companies have been present in India for over a century. Around 70 Indian companies have established their presence in Sweden. India-Sweden annual bilateral trade stands at around USD 1.8 billion.
In the evening, Prime Minister will meet the vibrant Indian community in Sweden, before his departure for London. PM Lofven is also expected to attend the community event as well. Sweden is home to more than 20000 members of Indian diaspora, including around 2000 Indian students studying in various institutions.
*India – Nordic Council Summit*
During the visit, India and Sweden also hosted an India-Nordic Summit, entitled ‘India-Nordic Summit : Shared Values, Mutual Prosperity’. At the invitation of Prime Minister of India and PM Lofven, all other Nordic Prime Ministers, PM Lars Lokke Rasmussen of Denmark, PM Juha Sipila of Finland, PM Katrin Jakobsdottir of Iceland and PM Erna Solberg of Norway, attended the Summit hosted on 17 April. India has substantial economic ties with Nordic countries. Annual India-Nordic trade is about $5.3 billion. The cumulative Nordic FDI into India has been $2.5 billion.
During the Summit, the Prime Ministers pledged to deepen cooperation between India and the Nordic countries and focused their discussions on key issues related to global security, economic growth, innovation and climate change. They acknowledged that innovation and digital transformation drive growth in an interconnected world, which underpin a growing engagement between India and the Nordic countries. The Summit emphasized the India’s strong commitment to innovation and digital initiatives as key to prosperity and sustainable development, with national flagship programmes such as Make in India, Start-up India, Digital India and Clean India. Nordic solutions in clean technologies, maritime solutions, port modernization, food processing, health and life-sciences and agriculture were mentioned. At the end of the Summit, India and the Nordic countries issued a Joint Statement.
Additionally, Prime Minister had separate bilateral meetings with PM Lars Lokke Rasmussen of Denmark, PM Juha Sipila of Finland, PM Katrin Jakobsdottir of Iceland and PM Erna Solberg of Norway on 17 April. The discussions focused on bilateral ties as well as major global and regional issues of mutual interest. A number of MoUs were signed on the occasion with these countries. These were an MOU on Cooperation in the field of Sustainable and Smart Urban Development, an MOU on Cooperation in the fields of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, an MOU on Food Safety Cooperation and an MOU on Cooperation in Agricultural Research and Education with Denmark and an MOU on the Establishment of the ICCR Chair for Hindi Language with Iceland.