New Delhi, Oct 27: India’s long-term growth prospects are strong and that is why Swedish companies are investing in the country, says Ambassador Herald Sandberg.
“Swedish company’s have long-term confidence in India. That’s why they are investing and hiring people here. These are tough economic conditions but the long-term confidence in India still remains,” Ambassador Sandberg told IANS in an interview.
“Swedish automobile companies like Volvo (buses) and Scania have facilities in Bangalore. Combined all Swedish companies employ around 600,000 people in India; this shows confidence in the Indian economy.”
Sweden with its large number of multinational companies has had a very long presence in India, dating back to 1926.
Since then major Swedish companies like Ericsson, SKF, Atlas Copco, DeLaval, Volvo, ABB and Astra Zeneca have entered and expanded their operations in India.
According to a recent survey carried out by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, the number of Swedish companies in India has increased to 158 in 2012, compared with 153 the previous year.
Swedish commercial vehicle manufacturer Scania recently started its facility in Narasapura, Bangalore, to produce trucks, buses and engines.
Volvo Buses, which has been in India for the last 10 years, has a large bus manufacturing factory at Hoskote, near Bangalore.
Volvo Auto India, a separate entity, estimated that its sales in India would increase from 820 units sold last year to nearly a 1,000 units by the end of this year.
On the entry of furniture maker Ikea into India, he said: “I am very excited about Ikea coming to India. Ikea’s entry in India will allow many Indians to see and experience Swedish design and lifestyle.”
Ikea was one of the first companies to propose a 1.5 billion euro investment (Rs.10,500 crore) in India last year after the government approved 100 percent foreign equity in single brand retail.
On the progress of the Indo-European Union (EU) free trade agreement, the envoy said he hoped that both sides should conclude the trade deal soon.
“I am hopeful that we will be able to conclude the FTA soon, as by next year India will go to elections and there will also be some elections in Europe.
So I am hopeful that the FTA is concluded soon, we have been discussing it for a long time and that the final conclusion should happen soon.”
Launched in 2007, negotiations for the proposed India-EU Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) have been hobbled by serious differences over issues like higher FDI cap, taxes and market access.
The EU wants India to open up its banking and insurance sectors and significant duty cuts in automobiles, wines and spirits, dairy products and a strong intellectual property regime (IPR).
India on the other hand wants liberalised visa norms for its professionals and market access in services and pharmaceuticals sector.
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)