Sweden sees scope for investment in India

Pranab’s Stockholm visit to see pacts on urban development, academics

Published - May 24, 2015 02:19 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Issues such as tax rates and import restrictions have to be tackled, feels Harald Sandberg'.

Issues such as tax rates and import restrictions have to be tackled, feels Harald Sandberg'.

Having noticed a perceptible positive change in the investment climate in India, Sweden is hoping that President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Stockholm from May 31 to June 2 will give a fillip to trade and investment ties and renew people-to-people contact. The two countries are expected to sign agreements on urban development, academics and micro, small and medium enterprises during the President’s visit.

Trade and investment, in the backdrop of the “Make in India” campaign, is expected to be high on the agenda, more so since a recent study by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce shows Swedish companies doing business in India are “very positive” about the investment climate in the country in the coming three years.

“I believe we have a credible measurement of the business climate shifting towards more positive. The investment climate is more favourable. The report by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in India, which does a review of the business on a yearly basis, shows a major shift in perceptions … I will add to that much of this is business listening to the government and the perception of what they hear and what they believe will happen. Fifty-eight per cent of the companies report that their market share has increased last year,” Ambassador of Sweden to India Harald Sandberg told The Hindu .

He said though there was a clear shift in perception, there were issues and challenges such as the tax rates, import restrictions, customs duties and bureaucracy that needed to be addressed. Mr. Sandberg said though relations between New Delhi and Stockholm were “already very friendly”, Mr. Mukherjee’s visit, the first by an Indian President, was expected to lay the ground for increasing trade and investment from both sides.

“We have a high percentage of Swedish companies doing business here — there are about 150 big companies active in India, but there is huge potential in both directions. The ‘Make in India’ campaign is interesting both from the Indian perspective in terms of exports towards us, but also for Swedish industry,” he said. Swedish companies provide direct employment to 15,000 people in India, while the figures through subsidiary operations run into several lakhs, he said.

India is keen on partnering with Sweden on aspects of urban development, with a thrust on smart cities. “There is a big demand from the Indian side for sustainable solutions and innovations for urban development; this is an opportunity to meet, talk and showcase where we can have complementary and interesting ideas,” he said.

Since India sends the largest group of foreign (non-European Union) students to Swedish universities, agreements to encourage more interactions between academic institutions is on the agenda.

Climate change

In the area of climate change, Sweden perceives Indian as a “key player” in firming up an agreement at the Conference of Parties (COP), 2015 in December.

“India will soon be the most populous country, it is a fast-growing economy. We see India as a very important partner in how the international community will meet the climate issue during the CoP in Paris,” Mr. Sandberg said.

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