Narendra Modi was in Switzerland, the third stop of his five country tour (the other four being Afghanistan, Qatar, the US, and Mexico), for a daylong tour on June 6, 2016. During his visit, the Prime Minister of India dwelt on a number of important issues including asking for the unflinching support on bringing back black money to the country, NSG membership, trade and economic engagement. Modi held discussions on all these and more with Swiss President Schneider-Ammann. Other eminent personalities in the line-up of his meetings included business persons and scientists working at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research).
Talks regarding NSG membership
India’s bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group was at the focus of the meeting. Modi clinched an important victory with Swiss President Schneider-Ammann extending his supportfor India’s attempt to become a member of this elite group. It has been quite a few years since the country has been struggling for its inclusion in the same. NSG is responsible for taking care of the nuclear sector and India will definitely stand to gain on several fronts if it becomes a part of the bloc. After a fruitful meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, President Schneider-Ammann declared that Switzerland fully supports India’s efforts in this regard. The Swiss support has come at a crucial time – just before NSG’s upcoming meeting.
Discussions on black money and tax evasion
The leaders of the two countries also discussed ways to address evident perils like black money and tax evasion. Modi said that they discussed the need for prompt exchange of information in a bid to bring perpetrators of the said crimes to justice. He went on to emphasize the importance of early discussions on the automatic exchange agreement between the two countries. Schneider-Ammann from his end assured that both the countries have put their best foot forward as far as combating tax fraud is concerned.
International institutions, free trade and other issues
The countries also demonstrated their commitment to beef up international institutions in line with the present global trends. Switzerland, the Prime Minister said, has agreed to work on the Swiss Vocational and Educational Training System to complement India’s needs. Modi affirmed that India has assured that it is ready to resume talks with the European Free Trade Association regarding the free trade agreement. The affirmation came in the wake of the complete cessation of talks between India and EFTA on several issues like data safety and Intellectual Property Rights.
Modi went on to say that strengths of the Swiss economy are an established fact but India is undergoing major transformations as well. As one of the fastest growing economies of the world, India is definitely seeking stronger collaboration with advanced economies. As far as energy security is concerned, Modi said that the country would focus on renewable energy rather than on fossil fuels. The Prime Minister went on to highlight the Indian sports and film industry’s contribution to the strengthening of Indo-Swiss ties. While our films have made most of us aware of Switzerland’s unparalleled beauty, our tennis stars Sania Mirza and Leander Paes have scaled new heights of success by pairing up with Swiss legend Martina Hingis. Modi did not forget to mention India’s introduction of the e-Tourist Visa facility for Swiss nationals. He also had a detailed discussion with the host country’s CEOs regarding various aspects of the bilateral relations.
Switzerland is without a doubt one of the top economies of the world and associating with it only benefit India. There are plenty of things that India can learn from this European country especially in terms of developing its hill stations into more viable destinations and exchanges could be made in several industries that are there in both the countries such as dairy farming. Its support in India’s campaign to become a part of the NSG will also be crucial in India getting some leeway in procuring raw materials that can help it develop the alternative energy sector even further. One also feels that Modi will try his level best to get some Swiss investors in India and get some help on how to develop rail facilities in the hilly and mountainous areas just as Switzerland has done.
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