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Sweden recognizes India’s role as “the world’s pharmacy”; says to focus on deeper ties in S&T | India News


NEW DELHI: Recognizing India’s role as the “world’s pharmacy”, the leading European nation, Sweden, said it is focusing on expanding bilateral cooperation in the areas of health and life sciences in light of the coronavirus pandemic .
Swedish Ambassador Klas Molin also said that Sweden and India stand “firmly and unequivocally” in the fight against terrorism, even as he noted India’s growing role in the Indo-Pacific region.
On the long-pending free trade agreement between India and the European Union, the envoy said there is still work to be done to calibrate the expectations and scope of both parties, noting that it will be mutually beneficial for both parties.
Molin told PTI that the overall bilateral relations between India and Sweden have been excellent and that both sides are seeking broader cooperation in eight key areas including innovation, trade and investment, health and defense.
“The pandemic has focused our thinking and our cooperation in health and life sciences has increased.
“India is the world’s pharmacy and some of our companies, some already established here, some venturing here now, are looking for new pairings,” said the ambassador.
“AstraZeneca is a well-known example, currently in phase three trials for a COVID vaccine, but it is also researching and developing in India in other areas,” he said.
India has supplied medicines and other medical assistance to more than 150 countries in recent months to help them deal with the coronavirus pandemic at a time when the country itself was reeling from its impact.
Indian health care has gained recognition from various countries as well as multilateral fora.
As the world eagerly awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford are conducting trials with a candidate vaccine.
In India, AstraZeneca is partnering with the Serum Institute of India (SII) for the possible vaccine.
Asked about security issues, Molin said that India and Sweden are firmly and unequivocally united in the fight against terrorism.
He also noted that “India is assuming an increasingly important role in the Indo-Pacific and is deepening its cooperation with other countries, both regional and external, in order to protect its interests and ensure free navigation and safe maritime passage in International waters. “.
“The international community has an interest in protecting these common goods, as well as in fighting terrorism,” he added.
On the border line between India and China in eastern Ladakh, the ambassador said that tensions of “this kind” leading to loss of life are “naturally very serious.” “I think it’s safe to say that there have already been some repercussions and consequences, for example, in the economic and technological fields.
“Hopefully, the ongoing talks will lead to a de-escalation and a more stable situation,” he said.
When asked about the proposed India-EU FTA, Molin hoped that the decisions made at this year’s summit between the two sides will pave the way for the resumption of negotiations.
“We firmly believe that an FTA would be very beneficial to both parties. There is still work to be done to calibrate the expectations and scope of both parties.
“This year’s EU-India Summit began with a high-level economic dialogue. Hopefully this will pave the way for the resumption of negotiations,” he said.
NAFTA talks have stalled since May 2013, when both sides failed to close substantial gaps on crucial issues, including the state of data security for the IT sector. Launched in June 2007, the negotiations for the proposed agreement have witnessed many obstacles.
When asked how ties generally progressed after Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia’s visit to India last year, the ambassador said relations have been “excellent” and was reflected in the visit.
“The pandemic has meant that some of the contacts have focused on new areas as we try to help each other meet this unprecedented challenge,” he said.
Ties between India and Sweden are improving in recent years. In April 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Stockholm during which both sides agreed to further deepen the innovation partnership for a sustainable future.
It was a visit to Sweden by an Indian prime minister after almost three decades.
When asked about the commemorative week of the Nobel between Sweden and India, Molin said that this year the program comprises several elements “that strengthen the synergies that our two countries share as partners with complementarities.”
“We also envision a virtual interaction between Swedish Trade Minister Anna Hallberg and the more than 200 Swedish companies in India, where the minister would give her perspective on world trade and investment scenarios, and more specifically trends for Sweden. and the Swedish industry in the current pandemic, “he said.

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