Context

  • Cooperation in the fields of transport, energy and vocational education and training will be on the agenda, as will digitalization and climate change, when India meets Switzerland

What was the treaty of friendship signed between Switzerland and India?

  • India and Switzerland have had cordial and friendly relations since India’s independence.
  • A Treaty of Friendship between India and Switzerland was signed at New Delhi on August 14, 1948, one of the first such treaties to be signed by the independent India.
  • The Treaty provided for the establishment of diplomatic missions between the two countries and missions were opened in Berne and Delhi soon after its conclusion.
  • During the course of 2008, India and Switzerland celebrated the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Friendship Treaty, an important milestone in the annals of Indo-Swiss bilateral relations.
  • In recognition of the growth of multi-faceted bilateral relationship over six decades India and Switzerland have been trying to elevate the bilateral relationship to a new and higher level by agreeing to establish a Privileged Partnership between them.

What are the Bilateral Institutional arrangements between India and Switzerland?

Foreign Office Consultations

  • Foreign Office Consultations began in January 1996. Since then six rounds of consultations have been held alternately in Berne and New Delhi in February 2000, January 2003, September 2005, November, 2006, January, 2008 and December, 2009 respectively.
  • The Foreign Office Consultations at Joint Secretary level were held in Berne on December 17, 2012 during the visit of Shri Rahul Chhabra, Joint Secretary (CE). The Swiss delegation was led by Amb. Beat Nobs.

Indo-Swiss Joint Economic Commission

  • Indo-Swiss Joint Economic Commission was set up in 1959 to intensify economic and commercial relations.
  • The Joint Commission meets periodically to review bilateral economic and commercial relations.
  • The 11th Session of the Indo-Swiss Joint Commission was held in New Delhi, India on 20 October, 2008 and the 12th Session of the Indo-Swiss Joint Commission, was held in Zurich on 1 October, 2010.
  • The 13th session of JEC meeting was held in New Delhi from October 4-5, 2012.

Swiss-India Chamber of Commerce

  • Swiss-India Chamber of Commerce was set up in 1985 in Zurich.
  • It regularly holds seminars, symposia and meetings to promote investments, trade and business in both the countries.
  • In July 2009, SICC signed two separate MOUs with Confederation of India Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
  • On October 4, 2011, during the State Visit both the Presidents addressed the Indo-Swiss Business Forum participated by CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM from India and Swiss India Chambers of Commerce and State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) from Swiss side.
  • Schneider Ammann met the Indian business delegation accompanying Hon’ble President of India separately along with SICC members and SECO officials on October 3, 2011.

Indo-Swiss Joint Committee

  • Indo-Swiss Joint Committee was the first Meeting of the Indo-Swiss Joint Committee on Science and Technology (S&T) was held on 23 September, 2011 in Berne.
  • The main objective of the meeting was to assess the ongoing S&T cooperation between India and Switzerland under the Indo-Swiss Joint Research Programme.
  • On October 1, 2012, the Indo-Swiss Joint Committee on S&T held discussions in New Delhi.

 India-Switzerland Financial Dialogue

  • The MoU was signed on October 3, 2011 during the State Visit.
  • The first Financial Dialogue was held in Berne on July 6, 2012. Indian delegation was led by Shri Gopalan, Secretary, DEA and the Swiss delegation was led by Amb. Michael Ambuhl.
  • During the visit, between Indian Ministry of Power and Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation was signed on 8 November, 2011 for cooperation in energy efficiency.

Other

  • Besides the above, India and Switzerland have signed Agreements on Promotion and Protection of Investments, Air Services, Collaboration in Biotechnology and Cooperation in Disaster Management.

How deep are the Economic relations between India and Switzerland?

  • Commercial contacts between India and Switzerland date back to the early 19th century when in 1851 the Volkart Trading Co. established its offices in Basel and Bombay.
  • The first major investment by Swiss companies in India came in mid-50s.
  • Switzerland and India had signed on November 22, 2016, a joint declaration on the introduction of the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) in tax matters on reciprocal basis.
  • As per the provisional trade data available for 2016, Swiss exports to India amounted to USD 1.60 billion (excluding gold, jewelry etc.), registering a decline of 9.9% compared to the previous year, while imports (excluding jewelry etc.) increased by 2% reaching USD 1.27 billion.
  • According to the Swiss National Bank data, Swiss companies made investments worth USD 7.93 billion in India during 2006-2015.

Bilateral Trade

  • India’s trade figures do not include the software and service exports. Swiss export figures do not include gold bullion imported by India.
  • In the year 2012, according to Electronic and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) US $ 434 million were exported from India to Switzerland.
  • In the year 2010-11, India imported bullion worth approximately US $ 22.5 billion from Switzerland. Switzerland is eleventh largest foreign investor in India.
  • The total Swiss direct investments in India are estimated to be over US $ 5 billion.

What is the Cooperation in education, research and innovation between the two nations?

Cooperation in the Social Sciences

  • swissnex India, established in Bangalore in 2010, connects Switzerland and India in the fields of science, education, art and innovation. The activities of swissnex India are focused on four main pillars: academic relations, entrepreneurship, innovation, and the intersection between the arts and science. 

Cooperation in the Social Sciences

  • swissnex India, established in Bangalore in 2010, connects Switzerland and India in the fields of science, education, art and innovation. The activities of swissnex India are focused on four main pillars: academic relations, entrepreneurship, innovation, and the intersection between the arts and science.

Swissnex India

  • India is a priority country for the Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships. These scholarships provide graduates from all fields with the opportunity to pursue doctoral or postdoctoral research in Switzerland at one of the public funded universities or recognised research institutions.

Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships

  • The Swiss VET Initiative India (SVETII) was launched as a pilot project on the occasion of the 60thanniversary celebrations of the Indo-Swiss bilateral friendship treaty in 2008.
  • Switzerland and India have a long history of cultural relations.

What influence does the Indian diaspora have in Switzerland?

  • An Honorary Consul General of India is based in Zurich.
  • The Indian community in Switzerland comprises of approximately 16,000 Indians including over 5000 persons of Indian origin.
  • Most of them are professionals in Engineering, IT, pharmaceuticals and paramedical fields. Few are deployed in the International Organisations like UN, UPU and other prestigious Swiss institutes like Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich and EPFL, Lausanne.
  • The Indian community is concentrated in Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Baden, Bern and Lausanne in that order.
  • A number of Indian associations actively organise cultural activities and celebrate Indian national days.

Cultural ties between Switzerland and India

  • Switzerland and India have a long history of cultural relations.
  • Numerous Swiss artists and researchers have been active in the Indian subcontinent, notably Le Corbusier (architecture) and Alice Boner (painter, sculptor, art historian
  • On the Indian side, film producers such as Yash Chopra brought Switzerland and India closer through popular Hindi movies filmed in the Swiss Alps. At an official level, cultural relations were established in the 1980s.

History of bilateral relations

  • Switzerland recognized India after independence in 1947 and established diplomatic relations thereafter.
  • From 1971 to 1976, during the dispute over Bangladesh, Switzerland represented the interests of India in Pakistan and those of Pakistan in India. India has an embassy in Bern and consulates general in Geneva and Zurich.

Can Switzerland help to improve the existing European Free Trade Association (EFTA) trade relations with India?

  • India and EFTA countries are holding negotiations for a Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) since October 2008, and 13 rounds had been held until November 2013.
  • Negotiations with the Indian government came to a halt in 2014 due to general elections in India
  • Indian exports to EFTA region contracted 19% to $1.2 billion in 2016-17 while imports fell by 10% to $17.8 billion during the same period.
  • EFTA is limited to four countries – Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
  • These countries are not part of the European Union (EU) with which India is negotiating a separate trade agreement called the India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement or BTIA.
  • India is an important migration partner for Switzerland. Over the past ten years India has led statistics for labour admissions to Switzerland from non-European countries: 1,700 authorisations a year
  • Switzerland had declared India’s data security and confidentiality laws “adequate” for entering into an automatic information exchange pact regarding unaccounted wealth in banks
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