What is the relevance of Nobel Week 2020? Any particular significance amid global crisis?
The Sweden India Nobel Memorial Week was instituted in the memory of inventor-philosopher Alfred Nobel and celebrates innovations, creativity and entrepreneurship. Going forward, innovations is also one of the cornerstones of relations between our countries, particularly since the Innovation Partnership was announced in 2018 when PM Modi visited Sweden. With the Nobel Memorial Week programme, we continue to build on and further strengthen a vibrant Indo-Swedish relationship in all areas of collaboration.
The significance amid the global crisis is that it is making us have to change and adapt. That’s what innovation is all about – you reimagine, rethink and reinvent to find solutions and to improve on the old. So, like everything else in the new normal, this year the entire Nobel Memorial Programme will take place a digital platform.The focus will be on how to re-engineer where necessary. Sweden India Health Talks will of course include the current pandemic situation.
We are also envisaging a virtual interaction Swedish Trade Minister would give her outlook to the 200+ Swedish CEOs on global trade and investment scenario, and more specifically trends for Sweden and Swedish industry in the ongoing pandemic.
How have India-Sweden political, strategic and economic partnership shaped up since 2018 & 2019 high level visits?
The relations between our countries are excellent, something the State visit confirmed while also inspiring us to do more. Their Majesties were accompanied by a very large business delegation and we have been busy following up leads and contacts from all the meetings that took place. The COVID pandemic has meant for instance that many of the ministerial contacts since the visit have taken place virtually. The pandemic has also meant that some of the contacts have been focused on new areas as we try to help each other cope with this unprecedented challenge.
What role does Sweden envisage for itself in India’s Europe strategy?
Sweden wants to be a close partner to India when it comes to the exchange of ideas, technology, trade and investment. We believe that India and Sweden together have a lot to contribute when it comes to jointly finding solutions to the global challenges of our time. For example, India and Sweden have already taken global leadership for the green transition of heavy industries by establishing LeadIT (the Leadership Group on Industry Transition) at the UN Climate Summit last fall. Our close cooperation on health and life science has only accelerated during the pandemic. The Joint Innovation Partnership is a key vehicle to drive this development. We want to continue integrating our innovation ecosystems and deepening trade and investment relations further. Together, India and Sweden can be an important part of creating a green, healthy and sustainable tomorrow for both our countries and for the world.
What are Sweden’s views on Indo-Pacific construct and resilient supply chains?
The region referred to as the Indo-Pacific is very important to Sweden and Swedish trade and has been so for many years. We are noting the efforts to formulate Indo-Pacific Strategies among several European countries with interest. Sweden is engaging in discussions on this together with other EU countries. Regarding supply chains, we have seen the devastating consequences of broken supply chains during the spring and summer. For us, this demonstrates the importance to keep trade free and open, even during a crisis. To achieve this, it is key to maintain and develop the rules-based international order for trade, with the WTO at its core. During the pandemic, Sweden has launched an initiative called “Trade for Health” that aims to remove obstacles to trade in health-related products globally.
What are Sweden’s plans for expanding investments in India taking advantage of concessions offered in various sectors?
We are welcoming India’s efforts to become an even more attractive investment destination and are working actively to make sure Swedish companies are well informed of changes and improvements in the Indian business climate, when they are taking their investment decisions. We are happy to maintain a close policy dialogue with the Government of India and other relevant stakeholders about how to give Swedish industry the best conditions to contribute to a strong, sustainable and green recovery after pandemic.