India- Nordic Meet & Commonwealth Head of Governments Meeting(CHOGM)

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi proceeded for a five day official visit to Sweden and UK on 16 April 2018.

He attended the first ever India-Nordic Meet at Sweden on 17th – 18th April and then during the second leg of his trip he participated in the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) at London on April 19th – 20th.

He arrived in Stockholm, Sweden on the evening of April 16 and was received by the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Lofven.

He held bilateral talks with his Swedish counterpart and also had an audience with King Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden on April 17th.

Sweden is an important trading partner of India. The annual bilateral trade between the two countries stands at around $1.8 billion. Over 170 Swedish companies have invested $1.4 billion in India, since 2000 and around 70 Indian companies have invested in Sweden.

PM Modi addressed a gathering of select Swedish business leaders, where future roadmap of cooperation in sectors such as trade and investment, science and technology, clean energy and smart cities was discussed. He also had a meet with the Indian community in Sweden.

Major Takeaways from India-Nordic Meet: 18 April 2018

Nordic countries include Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway.

India’s trade with the Nordic countries totaled around $5.3 billion in 2016-17, with cumulative Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to India estimated at $2.5 billion.

Hence, this initiative by PM Modi to bolster ties with these highly progressive and resource rich countries is being considered highly significant.

The following five MoUs were signed with the Nordic countries on the occasion:

  1. Cooperation in the field of sustainable and smart urban development.

  2. Animal husbandry and dairying.

  3. Food safety cooperation.

  4. Agricultural research and education with Denmark.

  5. Establishment of an ICCR Chair for Hindi Language with Iceland.

The following were the major takeaways from the India-Nordic Meet:

  1. PM Modi had one-on-one bilateral talks with the heads of each of the Nordic country to discuss the areas of congruency in trade and commerce.

  2. India and the Nordic countries broadly focused their discussions on key issues related to global security, economic growth, innovation and climate change.

  3. It was discussed as to how India’s rich pool of talent and skills can be utilized in the Nordic approach to innovation and growth, which professes a strong collaboration between public sector, private sector and academia.

  4. Nordic solutions in clean technologies, maritime solutions, port modernisation, food processing, health, life-sciences and agriculture that are essential to catapult Indian economic growth were discussed.

  5. The leaders also discussed global security, including cyber security, based on their shared values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and their commitment to uphold the rules-based international system.

  6. The Nordic countries reaffirmed their commitment to work constructively within the Group with the aim of helping India to acquire membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Furthermore, the Nordic countries and India reaffirmed the need for reform of the UN Security Council, including its expansion in both permanent and non-permanent seats to make it more representative, accountable, effective and responsive to the realities of the 21st century.

Lastly, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development as well as the ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement.

PM Modi’s Visit to the UK

PM Modi headed for London from Sweden, where he had a bilateral meeting with the British Prime Minister Theresa May on 19thApril.

The major focus of the discussion was to senergise British and Indian core strengths such as education, skill development, healthcare, cyber security, maritime security and innovation.

The interdependence of Indo-UK relations stems from the fact that India is the third largest investor and the second largest international job creator in the UK.

Besides, UK is India’s fourth largest inward investor and the Indian diasporas in the UK of around 1.5 million, is not only one of the largest ethnic minority communities, but also one of the most productive, contributing around 06 percent to the country’s GDP.

Indo-UK bilateral trade stands at $12 billion.

In 2017, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) put the GDP of Britain at $2.56 trillion and that of India at $ 2.43 trillion. The IMF has forecasted that, India is likely to overtake the aggregate GDP of Britain in the next two years.

Hence, India and Indians can no longer be ignored as a global entity.

Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM): 19th- 20th April 2018

The theme of the Commonwealth Summit was “Towards a Common Future”. The British hosts set out the following four main goals for the Summit:

  1. Prosperity: boosting intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.

  2. Security: increasing cooperation across security challenges including global terrorism, organised crime and cyber attacks.

  3. Fairness: promoting democracy, fundamental freedoms and good governance across the Commonwealth.

  4. Sustainability: building the resilience of small and vulnerable states to deal with the effects of climate change and other global crises.

Significant Takeaways from the CHOGM for India

The Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) has assumed greater significance post Brexit, where Britain is seeking a new global identity and is looking for trade partners outside the European Union.

The Commonwealth constitutes one third of the world’s population. These English-speaking democracies that span multiple ethnic and religious fault lines could emerge as a significant international platform.

India, which is one of the most powerful emerging global powers, is appropriately poised to take the lead and reimage the future of the Commonwealth.

The British government reportedly hoped to use the CHOGM to open negotiations for expanded trade with Commonwealth nations to replace lost trade with the EU.

India is likely to be a major beneficiary from this push by the UK. British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that commercial deals worth £1billion in free trade agreements will be signed with India post Brexit.

Important Decisions Taken during the Meet

The leaders committed their countries to ratifying and implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

The Revised Commonwealth Guidelines on Election Observation in Member Countries was adopted.

A Declaration on the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment was adopted. The Commonwealth Secretariat has been asked to develop an accompanying action plan that considers capacity building and hard and soft connectivity.

The Commonwealth Blue Charter on sustainable development and protection of the world’s oceans was adopted. The UK committed £61m to combat the pollution of the world’s oceans. Five countries have joined the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance: the UK, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and Ghana.

A Commonwealth Cyber Declaration was adopted that “reflects Commonwealth values, and sets out a common commitment to an open, democratic peaceful and secure internet, respecting human rights and freedom of expression.

The member nations called for a strengthening of the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The Commonwealth leaders agreed on 20thApril that Prince Charles would succeed Queen Elizabeth II as Head of the Commonwealth.

It was agreed that Rwanda would host the next CHOGM in 2020 and that Samoa would host the 2022 CHOGM.

PM Modi’s Stopover Visit to Germany

PM Modi wrapped up his three nation tour to Sweden, UK and Germany, by briefly stopping over at Berlin, Germany on 20thApril.

He held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and discussed ways to further strengthen strategic partnership between the two countries.

Germany is India’s largest trade partner in the European Union bloc and this meeting comes in the wake of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s trip to India last month, which focused on boosting economic and strategic ties between the two countries.

Thus, there is a visible mutual desire to cement the Indo-German strategic partnership.