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Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George, at the Launch of MISSP 2.0 (Momentum in India – Swiss SMEs Programme) Berne, Oct 18, 2019

Posted on: October 18, 2019 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George, at the Launch of MISSP 2.0 (Momentum in India – Swiss SMEs Programme)
Berne, Oct 18, 2019

Your Excellency Ambassador Ervin Bollinger, Excellencies, Business leaders, Friends of India, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening,

Let me begin my thanking Ambassador Bollinger for joining us today to inaugurate the Momentum in India – SMEs program 2.0. Ambassador thank you for your presence. I also welcome Ambassadors and business leaders who have joined us today.

Last month President of India was in Switzerland on a five day State visit. This was the fourth summit level visits between India and Switzerland in three years. Prime Minister Modi was in Switzerland in 2016 and 2018, Swiss President was in India in 2017, Swiss Foreign Minister was in India in August 2018. Today the Vice President of Switzerland Madam Simonetta Sommaruga, who is also the Federal Councillor for Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, is in India leading a high level business delegation.

The President was accompanied by a large business delegation from India. In fact, we had to convey regrets to many of the senior business persons who were desirous of joining the business round table, jointly organised by Embassy and SECO and addressed by both the Presidents of India and Switzerland.

During the visit of President of India, both countries signed a Letter of Intent for establishment of India – Switzerland Alliance for Science and Innovation.

The number of India tourists visiting Switzerland is an all-time high with the number exceeding 500 thousand this year. The number of Yoga and Ayurveda institutes and its practioners in Switzerland is growing even more rapidly today. The number of Indian students studying in reputed universities in Switzerland is also on the rise. 

Today morning I was at Winterthur addressing a gathering of over a thousand people from all walks of life in Switzerland. It was a function to welcome Mata Amritanandamayi, a spiritual leader from India, who is on a three day visit to Switzerland. I was amazed to see the welcome she received in Switzerland.

I mentioned all these recent developments in India – Swiss relations to highlight the growing momentum in our bilateral relations encompassing several areas of cooperation as diverse as science and technology, business and industry to spirituality to yoga. The trajectory of our long standing dynamic partnership is on constant rise in all sectors.

One area where we felt the need for a more active efforts is to reach out to the Small and Medium Scale companies in Switzerland. Small and medium-sized enterprises play a fundamental role in the Swiss economy. From Internet start-up to the high tech machine manufacturer, SMEs form the huge majority of enterprises. They represent more than 99% of companies and create two-thirds of the jobs in Switzerland. They make a major contribution to national creativity, growth and prosperity in Switzerland.

SECO, which Ambassador Bollinger represents, plays a central role in the SME promotion policy and the importance that SECO and Ambassador Bollinger attach to support SMEs in Switzerland.  SECO works in close cooperation with various partners, including Switzerland Global Enterprise, Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV) and State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) to ensure the best possible framework conditions for the Swiss SMEs.

The objective of the MISSP 2.0 is to provide a platform for Swiss SMEs for exploring mutually beneficial partnership with India and Indian companies. Our endeavor is to reach out to the Swiss SMEs which has the potential and interest to have a cooperative partnership with India.

The economic transformation of India, as the fastest growing large economy today, offers huge opportunity for several Swiss companies.  Many business houses in Switzerland are aware of the Indian growth story. We are aiming to become a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2025. We are transforming our country and the way we do business. Our efforts are showing results. We have jumped 65 positions on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. Banking reforms have been introduced to enhance financial stability. Formalization of economy is taking place with increase in cashless transactions. Digital economy and fintech sectors are breaking new grounds. The landmark introduction of the Goods and Services Tax has converted India into a single tax market for the first time in its history.

Today India is one of the countries with the largest Engineering Education base and the strongest R&D facilities in the world. Due to the encouragement that the youth of India are getting regarding innovation, India is ranked number 3 in terms of Unicorns after America and China. India is home to the third largest Start-up network in the world with over 21,000 enterprises. India’s 30 unicorns are valued at over 90 billion US dollars.

Today, India has one of the world’s largest renewable energy programmes. Globally, India stands 4th in wind power and 5th in solar and overall renewable power capacity. Our target is to achieve 175 Giga Watts of renewable energy by 2022. We have also set a target to get 6 to 7 million electric and hybrid vehicles on the road by 2020.

As India's large population is becoming economically empowered, Purchasing power is increasing, so is the demand too. For example, the growth of Air Passenger Traffic has been in double digit for the past few years. Because of that today India has become the third largest Aviation Market in the world.

In all this, there is huge potential for partnership between Indian and Swiss companies. We must join hands and add value to each other. In fact, more and more Swiss companies are looking at India as natural partners in business, in science and technology and in innovation. On a regular basis new joint ventures or collaborations are being worked out between Indian and Swiss companies.

Before I conclude, let me touch upon an important sector – defence sector. India plans to spend $ 130 bn on military modernization in the next 5 years. Achieving self- reliance in defence production is a key target for the Government of India. India has opened up the Defence industry for private sector participation to provide impetus to indigenous manufacturing. The opening up of the industry also paves the way for foreign original equipment manufacturers to enter into strategic partnerships with Indian companies. Domestically produced defence platforms, equipment, and spares worth $ 317 mn were exported to over 28 countries in 2015-16. 100% FDI is allowed in defence industry; wherein 49% is allowed under automatic route and beyond 49% through Government route.

To conclude, our objective under the MISSP 2.0 programe is to reach out to over 800 Swiss SMEs this year in major sectors and onboard at least 80 new Swiss companies for a mutually beneficial partnership. We plan to undertake a regular review at least every fortnight to ensure that we meet the target. I wish the MISSP team all the best.

I once again thank Ambassador Bollinger for joining us today. I wish the Ambassadors and business leaders for joining us today. I wish the MISSP 2.0 all the success.
Thank you.