To enhance bilateral trades in the defence sector between India and Sweden, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday invited Swedish firms to invest in the defence corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and also to collaborate in ship building.
Stressing that there is a huge potential for more India-Sweden partnerships, Singh highlighted the strong capabilities of the Indian defence industry in various fields and its willingness to collaborate with the Swedish companies for co-development and co-production in areas of mutual interest.
Addressing a webinar on India-Sweden defence industry cooperation, Singh said that bilateral trades and investment between India and Sweden have increased tremendously in recent years, with trades increasing from $3 billion in 2016 to $4.6 billion in 2019.
"This growth is spectacular and can be attributed to the increase in the number of Swedish companies in India, as well as Indian companies in Sweden. India is also the third largest trading partner of Sweden in Asia. This shows our robust business ties," Singh said.
The Defence Minister said that historically, the two countries have had a great relationship, which reflects not only common values but also commitment to global peace and security.
"Our strong bilateral relationship is also based on strong business and R&D linkages. Our Embassy in Sweden, as well as the Swedish Embassy in India, is actively engaged in promoting these economic linkages through the organisation of events in the host countries," he said.
Mechanisms like India-Sweden Business Round Table and Sweden India Business Council are contributing tremendously to this development. Besides, there exists a range of MoUs and agreements for bilateral cooperation in the fields of science and technology, healthcare, urban development, renewable energy, railways, polar science and defence, Singh said.
"Our bilateral business and government-to-government relations are on a strong institutional footing," he said.
The India-Sweden defence cooperation MoU, which was signed during the EU-India Summit (under the Presidency of Sweden) in November 2009, has the scope for exchange of expertise, training, logistic and maintenance, military technical cooperation, defence industrial and R&D cooperation and exchange on UN Peace Keeping missions.
The joint working group on defence cooperation, envisioned in the MoU, had also met in Delhi in December 2018. India and Sweden have also signed a General Security Agreement in 2019 on the exchange and mutual protection of classified information, enabling a comprehensive partnership in all defence sectors.
Singh mentioned that over the past few years, the Indian defence industry has been galvanised through progressive policies and procedural reforms, which have catapulted the industry to serve not only Indian requirements, but also meet global demands.
"These initiatives pave the way for more Swedish-Indian partnerships for the 'Make in India' and 'Make for the World' initiatives under various categories of the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020.
"Such a partnership model shall also lead to increased participation of Indian vendors in the global supply chain through impetus on indigenisation," the Defence Minister said.
The easing of FDI regulations and introduction of Buy (Global - Manufacture in India) in DAP 2020 are invitations for the foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to participate in the opportunities offered by the Indian defence industry, Singh said.
The foreign OEMs can set up manufacturing facilities individually or partner with Indian companies through joint ventures or technology agreements to capitalise on the 'Make in India' opportunity, the Defence Minister noted.
There is a lot of scope for Swedish and Indian defence industries for co-production and co-development, while the Indian industry can also supply components to the Swedish industries, he said.
"Swedish firms such as SAAB already have a major presence in India and I am confident that other Swedish firms will also find India as a major investment destination for defence manufacturing," the minister said.
Singh lauded India's robust ship building industry with an ecosystem of world class public and private ship building companies. He pointed out that both the countries may collaborate in the ship building industry for mutual benefit.
He also took an opportunity to invite Swedish firms to invest in the dedicated defence corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where they can benefit greatly from the unique incentives being offered by the state governments and the availability of a highly-skilled workforce in India.
The Defence Minister also extended an invitation to a delegation at highest level from Sweden to India and have a glimpse of the Indian defence industries.
"I am sure that a delegation from Sweden would find many areas of interest for further cooperation," he said