INCREDIBLY PROGRESSIVE & RECEPTIVE
A country with one of the best benefits in the world, in terms of universal healthcare and education, it has also been reported by the World Economic Forum as the most advanced country for women, and has developed one of the most comprehensive public transportation systems in the world. It’s also a country where you can really enjoy yourself through swimming, kayaking, walking, or picknicking, and be yourself
By Her Excellency Ms. Ulrika Sundberg, Consul General of Kingdom of Sweden in India
Sweden is a powerhouse of ideas and innovations, and is ranked as no. 1 in the EU and as no. 2 globally by the World Economic Forum. The economy is strong and exports to Asia went up with 28% in 2017. The Swedish Government’s overarching priorities are job creation, lifelong learning, sustainable development and fighting climate change. Sweden has also pledged to be the first fossil-free country in the world by 2030 and zero CO2 emissions by 2045.
HOLISTIC AND SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
To achieve these goals, it is focusing on Industry 4.0, life science and health, digitalization, start-ups and SME, research and development, environmentally sustainable production as well as fighting climate change. Our industries are constantly incorporating new technologies like AI or blockchain and have adopted the circular economy. The Swedish Government is a strong supporter of United Nations Agenda 2030 and the realization of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She was among the first countries to present an implementation report in June 2017. Sweden was the first country in the world to adopt the Climate Act, which binds future generations and governments to attain the goal of keeping global warming at maximum 2 degrees Celsius as set out in the Paris Agreement.
Tourism from India to Sweden has steadily increased in the last decade. In August 2017, Air India introduced a direct line New Delhi-Stockholm. Their Dreamliner airplane flies four times per week. In 2017, 220,000 hotel nights were registered by Indian tourists. This figure does not cover house rentals or Air B&B. Many Indians come to experience our wild beautiful and green nature, our archipelago and the Northern light. The fact that we have “Allemansrätten” – a right to room freely – has attracted a lot of attention. globally. This unique right allows you to set up a tent for 24 hours on other people’s property anywhere in the country as long as you stay out of sight from any permanent dwelling or house. Another recent development is that Sweden is now 99% cash free. You need to bring your credit card and other smart payment solutions like Klarna or Izettle.
MY EFFORTS TOWARDS CORDIAL RELATIONS
The India-Swedish relations are excellent and I would argue that we are at an all-time high. Former President Mukherjee paid an official visit to Sweden in 2015. Swedish Prime Minister Löven visited the “Make in India” in Mumbai in 2016. Sweden hosted the first “Make in India” outside of India in Stockholm in October 2017. Prime Minister Modi visited Prime Minister Löven in April 2018, and he also met with the other Nordic Prime Ministers in Stockholm. We have signed over twentyfive MoUs in key areas like health, environment, sustainable development and smart cities. A Joint Declaration with an accompanying Action Plan has been signed by our two prime ministers. A joint strategic innovation partnership was also signed in 2018 and the implementation modalities are being worked out.
STRENGTHENING STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
There is a lot of complementarity between India and Sweden and a long-term commitment exists on both sides. Sweden and India have mutual interests and share many values. A very close partnership is of mutual benefit. Both countries can learn from each other. We make a very good match despite the differences in size.
POTENTIAL IN INDIA
India is among the fastest-growing economies and is poised to be the most populated country in the world in the next decade. The choices which India makes will have a global impact. Sweden stands ready to share its lessons learnt, e.g. in transforming a society into a green and sustainable one. Best practices need to be exchanged. Sweden looks forward to setting up joint projects with the aim of creating future-proof solutions and life styles, based on life cycle costs and circular economy principles. Many key reforms have been enacted in India in recent years, like Aadhaar and GST, which will allow India to strive economically and plan appropriately for the future. Still more reforms are needed. Some are being pushed by the private sector like connectivity and ICT. Currently, there is an important debate about public sector reform, also an area where Sweden has experiences from its transformation in the 1990-ties.