Weeks before Sweden takes over the presidency of the European Union, Swedish Foreign Minister Johan Forssel said on Friday that pushing for an early conclusion of a free trade agreement between India and the EU is a key priority in Sweden’s 27-year term. said it would be one of -National.
He said Sweden would act as a “faithful intermediary” and do its best to bring the FTA negotiations to an end so that they “benefit everyone”.
The minister explained that India’s procurement of crude oil from Russia amid the conflict in Ukraine is part of domestic policy, and said every country must make its own decision.
“I am not here to tell you what to do. The war has affected Europe in many ways, especially in the energy situation. I completely agree with the Prime Minister. [Narendra] Modi says this is not the time to go to war,” he said, interacting with a group of journalists.
“I strongly hope that the war will end because there are no winners here. The situation in Ukraine is terrible. To wage a war in the middle of Europe today is a disaster and a catastrophe,” he said. said.
Asked about a proposed free trade deal between India and the European Union, Forssell said Sweden, as EU presidency, would push for an early conclusion of the deal.
At the same time, he acknowledged that there are certain obstacles to finalizing the agreement. Forssell said on Thursday he discussed the issue of an India-EU FTA with Trade Minister Piyush Goyal.
“We are looking for an agreement that benefits everyone. We need discussion and flexibility, but this is one area where we can work together during Sweden’s (EU) presidency,” he said.
“India’s growth story is just beginning and Sweden wants to be a part of it,” he added.
In June, India and the EU resumed negotiations on a long-held trade and investment agreement after a hiatus of more than eight years.
“It’s also based on trust. You can’t do it your way or on the highway. You have to listen to all sides and see what the obstacles are and have an open discussion about it. Yes,” Forsell said.
The minister said FTA negotiations may not be concluded in 2023.
“Honestly, I don’t think such an agreement will be finalized and signed during the Swedish president’s term. I will,” he added.
Negotiations for an ambitious free trade agreement were suspended in 2013 after several rounds of talks over six years.
Negotiations on the proposed agreement, which began in June 2007, witnessed a number of hurdles as both sides had significant differences on key issues.
Negotiations stalled as both sides failed to resolve disagreements related to tariffs on certain goods and the movement of experts.
In addition to demanding significant tariff cuts on automobiles, the EU wanted tax cuts on wine, spirits and dairy products and a strong intellectual property regime.
The Swedish minister said lowering India’s tariffs on various products could boost India’s trade and attract more investment.
“I think the relationship between Sweden and India is based on trust. Sweden has a very positive outlook on India,” he said.
Forssell arrived here on Thursday on his first official visit to India. This will be his first visit to Asia after he was appointed trade minister in the new Swedish government on October 18.
Forssell will be accompanied by a business delegation of chairmen and CEOs of Swedish companies such as Ericsson, Saab and Perstorp.
India and Sweden enjoy strong cooperation in various fields.
Over 250 Swedish companies have a presence in India, forming an important part of a growing economic and trade partnership.
Next year, Sweden and India will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Key areas of cooperation between the two countries are innovation, healthcare and the green transition.
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