Sweden is keen to take advantage of the long overdue and negotiated Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and its largest trading partner European Union (EU), said Swedish ambassador Harald Sandberg on Monday.
Interacting with Deccan Herald while speaking at a workshop on ‘The way to sustainable Transport: An Indo-Swedish perspective’, he said that a solution for the few remaining contentious issues in the proposed FTA is likely to be resolved soon.
“Fifty per cent of Sweden’s revenues come in through trade and the FTA will boost our business activities. But here rather than signing the treaty we should look forward to a win-win situation that trade should flourish to the economic benefit of both countries,” he said.
The FTA, which has missed several deadlines in the past, is likely to be signed after Modi’s visit to the United States. The EU is busy negotiating similar pacts with the US and Japan.
Sweden is all set to make Bangalore their third hub in the country after New Delhi and Pune with more investments and research and development centres, Sandberg said.
“We have invested $1.8 billion in India in 2013 and this is set to double this year. We are looking forward to more business-to-business relations so that more Swedish companies can invest in India,” he said.
Sweden is closely working with India on urban transport, renewable energy and solid waste management. The country with the second biggest GDP per person in Europe, is present in India with companies like ABB, SKF, AstraZeneca, Hennes & Mauritz, Volvo Trucks, and recently, Scania.
Volvo Cars might set up a plant in Narsapura, about 50 km from Bangalore in Kolar district. Scania is also ramping up investment plans for its bus production facility.
“IKEA already got approval from the government for its Rs 10,500-crore investment. It is already sourcing from India and specifically looking for more suppliers. Most likely our first store will be in Karnataka,” Sandberg said.
K Ratna Prabha, Additional Chief Secretary, Commerce and Industries Department, government of Karnataka, who recently visited Swedish capital Stockholm, said that in the mid and small segment, Autolive, Partex, Envic, Comsol and Indpro are doing well in Karnataka.
A Business Climate Study undertaken by the Swedish Embassy reveals that the companies are ready to stay here. “They are looking at more investments and hire more because the business climate is improving. They are also hopeful of less red tape in the infrastructure segment. We want the rollout GST at the earliest so that there will be more ease in doing business,” he said.
Commenting on the tendering process, he said, “Swedish companies are looking for full lifecycle tendering so that it will last long.”