Stockholm:Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday invited top Swedish firms to invest in India and said stronger bilateral business relations would augur well for the people of the two countries.
Modi, who held talks with his Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven earlier in the day, was welcomed by children in traditional Indian costume on his arrival at the Stockholm City Hall in Stockholm to attend the Roundtable Meeting with Swedish CEOs.
“Stronger business relations between India and Sweden augur well for the people of our nations. Met a group of leading Swedish CEOs at the roundtable in Stockholm," Modi tweeted after he and Premier Lofven interacted with top Swedish business leaders.
Prime Minister Modi exhorted top Swedish CEOs to invest in India and participate in flagship initiatives, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
“Sweden remains a valued partner for the @makeinindia initiative. PM highlighted the various investment opportunities in India," a tweet on the PMO handle said. Carsten Gronblad, Sweden’s trade commissioner to India, said around 30 CEOs or representatives of firms participated in the meeting.
“One of the main message from the speakers was that they consider India as a very strategic market and that they would like to partner India meeting certain challenges.
“If we look at Swedish investments, they are increasing over the last few years. Swedish companies have committed to invest $1.1 billion in India over the next two years," he told PTI.
The companies from Sweden have already invested $1.5 billion in India over the last three years, Gronblad said. This cumulative investment in India over a span of five years is more than that had been done over the last 20 years, he noted.
The major investors would be the likes of Ikea, AstraZeneca and Volvo trucks, he said. Charles Frump, MD of Volvo Car India, who attended the meet, said Volvo shared their vision of electrified vehicles with Prime Minister Modi and stated how it was in line with the Indian government’s vision.
One of the key feedbacks from companies participating was how red-tape can be further reduced, Frump said. Juvencio Maeztu, CEO IKEA Group, and Hakan Buskhe, CEO Saab, were among the top business leaders who attended the roundtable.
Sweden has a long history of investments in India. Many of the major Swedish companies such as Ericsson and Swedish Match (WIMCO) entered India even before it became independent.
Since then, numerous other Swedish companies such as Atlas Copco, Sandvik, Alfa Laval, Volvo, Astra Zeneca and SAAB have invested in India.
Though the bilateral trade fell to $1.9 billion in 2016-17, as compared to about $2.17 billion in 2015-16, Swedish investments and other economic activities in India have been on the rise. India’s exports to Sweden amounted to $710 million, while India’s imports from the nordic country totaled $1,160 million in 2016-17.