New Delhi: India and Norway will sign an agreement Tuesday to facilitate dialogue to boost bilateral trade, which currently stands at USD 1.2 billion. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg is currently on a 3-day visit here.
Addressing the India-Norway business summit, Solberg said Norway sees great scope for partnerships with India in business, trade, and investments and the country’s new strategy for engagement with India reflects its significance.
“The aim of the new strategy is to strengthen Norway’s bilateral relations and economic ties with India. Private sector engagement, research and technical cooperation are key components of the strategy,” she said. Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said while addressing summit said, “we should try to think about how can we increase it (bilateral trade) substantially in the next few years time and therefore, tomorrow we will be signing (an agreement to facilitate) a dialogue between India and Norway, between my ministry and my counterpart ministry to actually take it to a new level”.
“I am sure the dialogue will ensure that we look at all possible solutions to take it (trade) forward and make it better,” he added. “We also look forward to signing an FTA, there are several rounds (of negotiations) which have taken place, you are a part of the grouping (EFTA) and we really look forward to that concluding soon which will provide a framework for bilateral trade to grow,” Prabhu said.
India and the EFTA countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) are working on the nuts and bolts of the pact, officially dubbed as the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA). Observing that Norway and India are both ocean states and closer cooperation in this field will benefit both countries, Solberg said the Ocean Dialogue between Norway and India will be an important tool to bring this cooperation forward.
Business entities from the two nations signed 15 MoUs across various sectors including finance, ICT, health-care, energy and aquaculture, among others, in the presence of the prime minister. She observed that “big possibilities” exist for Norwegian companies in India, especially in the energy sector.
Stressing that open and free trade are crucial for economic growth, Solberg said, predictable and stable framework conditions are vital for attracting foreign investment to any market. The Norwegian prime minister, further said efforts are on to ensure that the trade and economic partnership agreement between EFTA (European Free Trade Association) and India is finalised soon as it will contribute to increased trade and better environment for businesses from the two nations.
“We also support a rule-based multilateral trading system, open markets and lower trade barriers. A stable global framework for trade and investment is vital for both our countries, especially in times like today where we are seeing increased protectionism in certain markets,” she said. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the summit, the Norwegian prime minister said she is pleased to meet her Indian counterpart during the visit.
“I think he (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) has done a tremendous job on a lot of social issues in India and he keeps a high knowledge of sustainability in the international political discussions. I hope that we also would have platform for political cooperation in the years to come,” Solberg said.