Leaderships of both India and Sweden see great potential for exchange in the area of transport, environment and infrastructure, says Ulrika Sundberg, Consul General of Sweden, in an interview with Souvik Goswami of Elets News Network (ENN).
How Sweden is collaborating in India’s growth story?
Mutual economic interests have emerged as the driver of the relationship between India and Sweden with growth in bilateral trade, which crossed $2 billion in 2009-10 and increased to $2.4 billion in 2014-15, making India a priority trading partner for Sweden.
According to the statistics of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow into India from Sweden from 2000 to 2015 was $1.1 billion, making it the 19th largest investor, accounting for 0.43% of total FDI inflow in the country. Sectors that have received the largest share of Swedish investments in India are automobile industry (33%), industrial machinery (15%), miscellaneous mechanical and engineering industries (10%), electrical equipment (7%) and metallurgical industries (5%).
The Government of India has initiated ambitious Digital India, Smart Cities, Make in India programmes. How do you see Sweden participating in these initiatives?
Sweden is one of the pioneering countries when it comes to cuttingedge technology, sustainability, digitalisation, innovation and smart cities. Sweden and India have a long history of partnerships in various areas and sectors and have an important exchange of students and researchers and collaboration in many fields. However, there is great potential to take this cooperation forward in the field of infrastructure. Environmental awareness is deeply rooted in the Swedish society. Sweden and Swedish companies are known for their sustainable approach when it comes to urban development.
“Under the Smart Cities Platform, Swedish companies’ delegations have presented solutions to Municipal Corporations of Pune and Nagpur. Sweden stands ready and is committed to suggest solutions to the complex issues of smart and sustainable development.”
In India, there are Swedish companies providing solutions within everything from urban mobility, sustainable energy systems, air purification and waste management to road and public safety and security, information and communication systems. During the State visit of the Indian President, Pranav Mukherjee, to Sweden in June 2015, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) within the field of Sustainable Urban Development was signed. The MoU aims to promote bilateral cooperation in the field of sustainable urban development, and create a foundation to further develop the cooperation between the two countries in this field. The Sweden- India Smart Cities Platform specifically promotes Swedish smart urban solutions for the Indian market.
According to a report by the World Bank, a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration in India, can lead to a 1.4% increase in the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country making digitisation an important factor for enhanced productivity and growth. Our aim is to exchange views on current developments in smart manufacturing and smart tech and the opportunities digitalisation offers in different manufacturing sectors. Digitalisation paves the way for sustainable human development like Smart Cities, smart manufacturing, connectivity and communications.
How Sweden is partnering with the Maharashtra Government in the area of Smart Cities?
India is set on the mission of building 100 smart cities, which is pivotal to the promise of a sustainable living challenged by rapid urbanisation. To achieve this investment, both on a small and large scale, smart urban systems’ technologies are vital. Sweden with its long history of sustainable research and thinking has established the Sweden-India Smart Cities Platform with different official representatives of team Sweden, like the Consulate General, and Swedish companies in India to make this mission a reality.
The platform functions as a vehicle for cooperation and development of Smart City solutions suitable for the Indian context.
Under the Smart Cities Platform, Swedish companies’ delegations have presented solutions to Municipal Corporations of Pune and Nagpur. Sweden stands ready and is committed to suggest solutions to the complex issues of smart and sustainable development.
How important is India for the Swedish companies in terms of investments?
India is a very important market for Swedish companies. Some 180 Swedish companies create jobs in India!
Nearly 150,000 jobs are directly created by Swedish companies present in India and 1 to 3 million indirectly, including sub-contractors, farmers and service providers. The recent Sweden Business Climate Survey showed that 80% of Swedish companies in India wanted to invest further in the coming years.
Traditionally, Swedish companies in India have been strong on engineering, manufacturing and business-tobusiness products and services. With Ikea and H&M now entering the market, there will be an increased focus on consumer goods. I think we will see a more diversified market, where business-to-business focusing on engineering and manufacturing is still strong and on the rise, while new companies in other areas will also discover India. The Consulate General of Sweden in Mumbai, the Embassy in New Delhi, Swedish Chamber of Commerce in India and Business Sweden today definitely get more and more requests about business opportunities in India.
Where do you want to see India- Sweden partnerships heading in coming years?
Swedish Prime Minister visited Make in India Mumbai Week in 2016. A joint statement by Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven and Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi was released on this occasion, which highlighted Sweden- India collaboration. Both Prime Ministers supported a stronger business-tobusiness dialogue between the two countries and welcomed the creation of an India-Sweden Business Leaders’ Round Table. Sweden and India have an ongoing bilateral cooperation in many fields, notably education, health and environment and science and technology. Leaderships of both countries see great potential for exchange in the area of transport, environment and infrastructure. Contribution made by the skill development programmes of Swedish companies in India play an important role in preparing young Indians for the jobs of the 21st Century.
To enhance awareness of each other’s cultures and boosts people-to-people ties, both governments welcomed reciprocal festivals of ‘Namaste Stockholm’ in Sweden and Sweden- India Nobel Memorial Week in India. In August this year, the Stockholm Cultural Festival will have India as its focus country.