New Delhi: En route to London for next month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will stop over in Copenhagen for the first India-Nordic countries summit. The Heads of Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland will be in attendance. This will be the first ever summit level engagement with all five Nordic countries which India is hoping to institutionalise as an annual affair.
The focus of the summit will primarily be trade and investment. Bilateral trade between India and the five Nordic countries is an estimated 4.5 billion US dollars which is a pittance compared to its actual potential. These countries are home to some of the biggest companies in the world, including the likes of Volvo, SEB, IKEA, Ericsson, Maersk etc. In comparison, China’s trade with these five countries exceeds 50 billion dollars which is more than 10 times what India trades with this sub-region of Europe.
Last week in Kolkata the ambassadors of these five countries flagged an issue that has been a matter of concern for some time now. The Nordic countries have been pushing for a Free Trade Agreement with India since 2007 but New Delhi has been wary as not all Nordic countries are part of the European Union. There is a feeling in South Block that this may jeopardise India’s ongoing negotiations with the EU for a separate FTA.
The Prime Minister is also planning to address a special Indian community event bringing together NRIs who have settled in these countries for many generations now. There are more than a 100,000 people of Indian origin who have settles in these countries.
India has also had a very topsy-turvy relationship with Denmark since the Purulia arms drop case where the main accused was a Danish national, Kim Davy, who was extradited. Relations have been frosty in the last 20 years or so. But last year, Air India started its first direct flight between Delhi and Copenhagen. In keeping with his style, PM Modi is hoping that this visit too will be etched in history books as the first by an Indian Prime Minister in decades.