President’s state visit to Switzerland, Austria
From CK Nayak
Bern: India and Switzerland on Monday held discussions on a variety of issues including the contentious black money issue hounding the Congress-led UPA Government, during the state visit of President Pratibha Devisingh Patil here.
Reports about Indian black money kept in Swiss accounts have somewhat dampened the bilateral relations in the last couple of years.
With the revision of the double tax agreement from 1994, however, the dispute should be settled soon. In August last year, a protocol concerning change in the Agreement was also signed.
Parliaments of both the countries have already adopted those amendments. But as per Swiss laws it can come into effect only by early next year.
Patil is accompanied by an economic delegation of 45 members which is a reflection that India represents an interesting market for the Swiss Confederation. The trade volume of the two countries has increased substantially over the years.
Swiss exports were decisively higher than the imports and the Swiss direct investments in India have also risen strongly.
Switzerland is negotiating an FTA with India since 2008 within the EFTA framework and India is negotiating an FTA with the European Union in parallel and the same was believed to be raised in the official talks.
On her arrival in the mountainous Swiss capital on the foothills of the Alps, the President and her husband were received with full military honors. Patil delivered a speech in the Federal parliament building and met members of the Federal state government.
The focus of the conversations was bilateral financial, economic and environmental collaboration especially in the field of renewable energy.
The issue of terrorism plaguing the Indian sub-continent and the world as a whole was also discussed.
Informatively, Switzerland had immediately recognised India after its independence in 1947 and signed a Friendship Treaty with New Delhi the following year.
Until the beginning of the 1980s India was mainly a recipient of development aid. With the tremendous economic growth and India’s rise to a being a newly industrializing country, the economic cooperation has been more in the focus over the last decade.