President of Switzerland Dorsi Leuthard has reaffirmed her country’s support for India’s fight against black money.
“The Swiss government, the federal council, is committed to support India’s fight against black money also like automatic exchange of information of fiscal matters,” Leuthard said while addressing the launch event of “70 Years of Swiss Indian Friendship” here on Friday night.
“And we hope this year to have cleared the approval of that agreement,” she said.
India and Switzerland signed an agreement for automatic exchange of financial information in November 2016.
On Thursday, following delegation-level talks headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Leuthard, both countries agreed to enhance cooperation in the fight against tax fraud while acknowledging the need for a global level playing field for implementation of the international standards on tax transparency.
A joint statement issued said that “both leaders emphasised their willingness to further enhance cooperation in the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion”.
Leuthard also said that trade and investment between the two countries have been growing and high-level bilateral visits have become more frequent.
Modi visited Switzerland in June 2016 in what was the first prime ministerial visit from India to that country in several decades. Swiss Presidents have earlier visited India in 1998, 2003, and 2007.
“Over 200 Swiss companies are present here in India having created more than 100,000 jobs,” Leuthard said.
“Switzerland is number seven when it comes to trade and 11th biggest foreign investor in India,” she stated.
“Vice-versa, India has around 140 companies with offices in Switzerland, making Switzerland the seventh largest recipient of Indian investment.”
Stressing that the protection of these mutual investments is important, she said that Switzerland was working to renew the investment protection agreement with India.
She said that Switzerland was also working with its European Free Trade Area (EFTA) partner countries for a free trade agreement with India.
The Swiss President also said that there were many subjects of common interest between Switzerland and India “like skilling our workforce, railways, building environment-friendly cities and communicating high-tech research to everyone”.
In Friday’s event, eminent personalities, including Father of the Green Revolution M.S. Swaminathan, were honoured as Swiss-Indian Friendship Ambassadors. The others were Sushil Premchand, Barbara Maim, Matias Echanove and Rahul Srivastava.
While 94-year-old Swaminathan is a close collaborator with the Swiss Development Cooperation on food security and climate change for over 10 years, Premchand is a former president of the Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce and is considered a strong pillar of the Indo-Swiss business community.
Maim, a Swiss citizen based in Bengaluru, is a co-founder of the Swiss start-up Minsh, a community messaging system and private social network.
Echanove and Srivastava are co-founders of the Urbz platform in Geneva and Mumbai and are engaged in projects involving architecture, design, planning, anthropology, pedagogy and technology.
India and Switzerland signed their friendship agreement on August 14, 1948.