Switzerland, India working to create innovation platform: Swiss Ambassador
Switzerland is keen to accelerate bilateral ties with India by tapping more trade and investment opportunities, and both countries are also working to create an innovation platform, according to Swiss Ambassador to India Ralf Heckner.
Emphasising that his "expectations are very high", he said innovation and a free trade agreement can take the bilateral relations to the next level.
In an interview with PTI here, Heckner said he sees a lot of convergence between both countries when it comes to innovation.
"Switzerland being the most innovative country and more innovations (are) being created in India, what I would like to see is the most strategic innovation relationship. We are working with the Indian government to create an innovation platform that will bring the best universities, IITs and federal institutes of technology in Switzerland together with very innovative Swiss and Indian businesses," he said.
The idea of creating an innovation platform is at an initial stage, and in this regard, a pilot project that is focused on anti-microbial resistance is in progress.
"By the end of the year, we will be presenting our first results when it comes to the pilot project," the Ambassador said, adding that there is also convergence in terms of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
"The more innovative India becomes, India will have an interest in IPR. Switzerland attaches a lot of importance to IPR and I see India moving into that space. That will also open up quite some interesting cooperation," he noted.
In the Global Innovation Index 2022, India's ranking improved to the 40th position and the list was topped by Switzerland.
On the trade front, negotiations between India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) have been going on for some time. EFTA is an inter-governmental organisation of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Against the backdrop of India recently concluding trade deals with Australia and the UAE, Heckner said that he would like to see the negotiations on a free trade agreement between India and EFTA moving forward at a quick pace.
"I feel that the Indian government is now open for trade deals...The proof of the pudding is already there, because of trade deals that India has signed with Australia and the UAE.
"The next important visit will be that of the State Secretary for Economic Affairs to Delhi in the beginning of February. If we are able to move our negotiations forward, that would take our relations to the next level," he said.
In 2020 to 2021, bilateral trade between Switzerland and India stood at around 11 billion Swiss francs.
"In 2023, I would like to see our bilateral relations accelerating... we are not only celebrating 75 years of India's independence but also 75 years of friendship.
"It is so important that countries that are friendly work together. So, we would like to celebrate our friendship, and we expect high-level visits to India and from India also," Heckner said.