Federal Council welcomes Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on state visit
Bern, 13.09.2019 - On the afternoon of Friday, 13 September, the Federal Council, led by President Ueli Maurer, welcomed Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and his wife, Savita Kovind, to Bern with military honours to mark the state visit to Switzerland. During the official talks that followed, discussions focused on bilateral relations, in particular the opportunities presented by a free trade agreement, and cooperation on environmental matters. Further topics addressed included global issues and India’s regional situation.
In his welcome address, President Maurer cited President Kovind’s visit as proof of the renewed impetus in bilateral relations between Switzerland and India following the festivities last year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship. Switzerland was represented at the official talks at the Bernerhof by President Maurer, Vice President Simonetta Sommaruga, and federal councillors Guy Parmelin and Ignazio Cassis.
Discussions covered the conclusion of a free trade agreement, which the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and India have been negotiating since 2008, and the negotiations on a bilateral investment protection agreement. Both sides welcomed the progress made on financial and tax matters. This has led to the automatic exchange of information between Switzerland and India, which became possible at the beginning of 2018. The first exchange of information is due to take place shortly.
Fields which would lend themselves to even closer bilateral cooperation include science, research and education, as well as measures to tackle climate change. Both sides stressed the significant potential for bilateral exchanges on rail transport, and also discussed cooperation on cleantech and renewable energies. Closer cooperation on health matters was also mentioned.
The delegations discussed the situation in Kashmir. They also addressed global security issues and the protection of human rights. In closing, they reflected on cooperation between Switzerland and India at an international level.
Cooperation on environmental issues and science
After the official talks, the two sides signed a number of memorandums of understanding. In so doing, Switzerland and India are demonstrating their wish to work together more closely in efforts to tackle climate change and to expand cooperation in the field of science. President Maurer and President Kovind then attended an Indo-Swiss business forum in Bern.
The state dinner will take place in the evening. The visit by President Kovind continues the series of frequent contacts at the highest level in recent years. Switzerland and India have maintained a regular political dialogue since 2005. India is Switzerland’s third largest trading partner in Asia. In addition to political and economic exchanges, Switzerland and India also foster cooperation in the fields of science, education and culture.
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