Shri Anand Sharma, Union Minister for Commerce & Industry, in a business meeting with Mr. Johann Schneider-Ammann, Federal Councilor Minister for Economic Affairs of Switzerland, here today stated that, “India has always stood for an open, equitable, predictable, non-discriminatory and rule-based multilateral trading regime. India gives primacy to engagements in multi-lateral negotiations at the World Trade Organization. India is committed to successful conclusion of Doha Round and support multi-lateral and bilateral engagement with rest of the world”.
He stressed that developed world is resorting to protectionist tendencies which hurt both developed and developing economies. The Minister informed, “In our lifetimes, we have seen a tectonic shift in global growth and investment patterns and while Europe and Americas dominated the economic discourse in the centuries we left behind, the 21st century is decidedly a different one in which emerging economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America are playing a much larger role. India which is home to a sixth of world’s population is finally beginning to realize its true potential on the global stage’.
Shri Sharma while addressing the business meeting announced that European Free Trade Association (EFTA) with India will be signed by the end of this year. Switzerland being a member of EFTA is playing an active role in the negotiations. He highlighted that India is the one of the fastest growing economies with a GDP of over US $ 1.6 trillion. The last 5 years before the economic down turn, India was consistently growing at an average of 9% and the resilience of Indian economy was demonstrated at the peak of the economic crisis when our financial institutions, banks and regulators were able to withstand a difficult time. “I am confident that the negotiations will result in a mutually beneficial agreement for both sides” Shri Sharma said.
Highlighting the importance of bilateral relationship with Switzerland the Minister remarked that, “Switzerland is a prosperous and modern market economy and highly skilled labour force. …. Switzerland also is a global leader in innovation and over a period of time has evolved a sophisticated business culture. It is home to one of the world’s finest scientific research institutions and has evolved a unique collaborative model between academia and industry to ensure focus on applied research.” He further said that, Swiss expertise in manufacturing has a big role to play in the relations between the two countries. He informed that India will very soon have its first Manufacturing Policy as the manufacturing sector has a crucial role in building the infrastructure and employment generation for the millions of people.
Shri Sharma informed that, “ About 170 Swiss companies are already present in India which employs around 60,000 people and bilateral trade is close to 20 billion US $.” While the large majority of these companies are engaged in the traditionally strong Swiss business areas like engineering and industrial equipment, chemicals and pharmaceuticals and precision instruments, the larger volume of FDI from Switzerland has in fact come into the services sector. The Swiss investment in sectors such as power, agro- processing and construction is low at present and can be enhanced.
Swiss Minister expressed optimism over the growing trade and investment engagement with India. While addressing the business meeting, the Swiss Minister said, “Indian investors are using Swiss business friendly environment as a gateway for European market”. Mr Schneider-Ammann invited Indian participation in pharma, IT, clean energy, micro and bio-technology. He was appreciative of the fact that India’s gems and jewellery sector have a strong partnership with their companies in Switzerland. Both the sides have agreed to cooperate on range of sectors such as: infrastructure, biotechnology, food processing, chemicals, engineering and industrial equipment, precision instruments and services.
Mr. Johann Schneider-Ammann, while lauding the strides made by India in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and green buildings invited Indian companies for an active exploration of opportunities arising from this emerging sector and are undertaking measures to reduce energy dependence and raise efficiency. Shri Sharma invited the Swiss business community to invest in infrastructure which is another area of opportunity.
# PIB DS/GK ID :71527