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Jaishankar Calls on Belgium PM; Discusses Growing Bilateral Cooperation on Trade, Technology


External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Monday, along with Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Union Minister of State for Entrepreneurship, Skill Development, Electronics and Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar, to discuss expanding bilateral cooperation, including in trade and technology.

“Delighted to call on PM of Belgium @alexanderdecroo along with my colleagues – @PiyushGoyal & @Rajeev_GoI today. Conveyed personal greetings of PM @narendramodi. Discussed our growing bilateral cooperation, including in trade and technology. Also spoke about contemporary strategic concerns,” tweeted Jaishankar. He also shared his thoughts about visiting Sweden and engaging EU-Indo Pacific Ministerial.

“I visited Stockholm for a meeting of the European Union’s Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum and also to mark the 75th year of diplomatic relations between India and Sweden. My talks with my Swedish counterpart Tobias Billstrom were extensive in terms of exploring, taking our bilateral cooperation to a higher level as also comprehensive in discussing the political and economic challenges in our respective regions and indeed for the global economy,” he said.

The EAM also met with Swedish Defence Minister Paul Johnson, National Security Advisor Henrik Landerholm, and Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, all of whom expressed Sweden’s desire to strengthen its relationship with India.

Speaker Andreas Norlen also spent time discussing his thoughts on the possibilities for cooperation, including more parliamentary exchanges between India and Sweden.

In the European Union, Sweden is an important trade, technology, and investment partner of India. It is also an important member of the Nordic grouping, in which India has been participating in a structured format since 2018.

“During my visit, we spoke about extending our engagement to the Nordic-Baltic format as well, and that is something that we will be working on in the coming days. We have today significant Swedish economic presence in India. More than 250 Swedish companies are there, and many of them have been there for more than a century. Ericsson and SKF and Swedish Match come readily to mind in that regard. I heard and felt great enthusiasm in Sweden about working more closely, looking at new opportunities that are arising out of India’s growth and development, and this was reflected in the digital and technology side as also in the fact that India today is emerging as a viable destination for global supply chain operations,” said Jaishankar.

Speaking about the growing Indian community in Sweden, roughly around 60,000, Jaishankar said, “I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to them. Their contribution, their impact really on shaping the image of India and Sweden I think is very notable and I’m very confident that they will continue to be a bridge between the two countries.”

Jaishankar further stated that the Indo-Pacific Ministerial in which he participated was the second such event.

“The first one took place in France last year and this was an opportunity to engage with colleagues both from the European Union and the Indo-Pacific and in fact actually to encourage this larger regional, regional connect on issues of mutual interest for both of us,” he said.

Jaishankar delivered the keynote address at the forum and in his concluding session, he encouraged the European Union to take greater interest in the Indo-Pacific because what is happening there will be central to the direction of global politics and the international economy.

“I met counterparts from Latvia, Austria, France, Lithuania, Belgium, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria in bilateral meetings and of course interacted with a number of other ministers during the conference on social occasions. I felt overall that today Indo-Pacific as a concept had gained greater traction. There was a lot of interest in what the Quad was doing there was a better appreciation, really, of India’s perspectives on de-risking the global economy. How today to encourage trust and transparency in the digital domain and to help construct more reliable and resilient supply chains. These are objectives today that the European Union shares with nations of the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

“So there was a considerable convergence, really, both in the views and interests of the countries around the table. Overall impression really today from the visit was that a long-standing relationship with a reliable partner like Sweden has received a boost from high-level interaction,” added Jaishankar.

He said that for India, the bilateral relationship certainly mattered and is of further significance because of Sweden’s importance in the European Union.

“Sweden is a key member of the Nordic grouping. And indeed, Sweden has been encouraging closer contact between the European Union and the Indo-Pacific in its presidency, which is of interest to India. Certainly, on global issues, issues involving climate action, digital progress, and sustainable development goals. These are all issues where Sweden is a natural partner,” he said.

Speaking on the LeadIT initiative – The Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT) aims to enable the transition of heavy industry to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, Jaishankar said, “We co-chair the LeadIT initiative on Industrial Transition together. We, in fact, at the Multilateral Forum, also often sponsor resolutions of common interest. So a good bilateral partner, regional partner, multilateral partner, I think, who, with whom an important relationship has got updated.”

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