NEW DELHI: Sweden will not interfere with India’s energy policy especially in the context of increased Indian purchase of Russian oil. Interacting with a select group of media here, Sweden’s Minister for International Development and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell hinted that Stockholm understands India’s arguments for energy stability saying the matter falls within India’s “domestic policy”.
“I am not here to tell India what to do as it is for India to decide and It’s a part of the internal policy of India. We hope the war in Ukraine comes to an end very soon,” said Mr Forssell who is on a two-day visit here. India has faced questions from the western countries for continuing to buy Russian energy in the backdrop of Moscow’s military campaign against Ukraine and the Swedish minister’s comments are expected to bring some relief to India as Sweden is going to take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from January 1, 2023 which will coincide with the Indian Presidency of G-20 where the European Union will be represented.
The current Presidency of the Council of the European Unon is held by the Czech Republic which will come to an end on December 31. Sweden’s Presidency will last between January 1 to June 30, 2023.
Sweden is not a member of G-20 but the country is likely to strengthen the voice of the Nordic region through its Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Mr Forssell held a meeting with Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday during which the two sides discusssed green transition, health, meditech, infrastructure, defence and security issues. Mr Forssell came out in support of a “comprehensive free trade agreement” between India and the European Union and said such a deal would be a “priority during Sweden’s Presidency”.
“We very much want an FTA with India. This would be a milestone. Indian companies have told us about the need for FTAs. Indian companies have told us about the need for FTAs as there is a great potential here. We can given it a push forward (during the Presidency of the Council of the European Union),” said Mr Forssell arguing that such agreements should avoid arguments like “my way or highway.”
Mr Forssell said a an EU-India FTA would boost bilateral trade between India and Sweden and argued in favour of lower tariff. “It is in everyone’s interest to have lower tariff. It is also in the interest of India and it would be a fantastic deliverable during our Presidency,” said Mr Forssall expressing hope that the agreement could be sealed either during Sweden’s Presidency or the one after that.