India-Finland Review Trade and Arctic Policy Ahead of Business Conclave | 2024 Diplomatic Milestone

India and Finland conduct a comprehensive review of trade, Arctic policy, and diplomatic relations as they prepare for the second edition of the India Nordic Baltic Business Conclave. Explore the 2024 milestone and deepening India-NORDIC ties.

Nov 2, 2023 - 09:29
Nov 2, 2023 - 09:29
India-Finland Review Trade and Arctic Policy Ahead of Business Conclave | 2024 Diplomatic Milestone

In anticipation of the upcoming second edition of the India Nordic Baltic Business Conclave later this month, India and Finland have engaged in a comprehensive review of their trade and investment relations, educational collaborations, digital partnerships, sustainability initiatives, and more as part of their Foreign Office Consultations.

At the 12th Foreign Office Consultations, the two parties also evaluated matters related to mobility, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people interactions. The discussions extended to encompass multilateral cooperation, with a particular focus on Arctic affairs and reforms within the United Nations Security Council.

As stated by the Ministry of External Affairs, these consultations provided a platform for the exchange of perspectives on regional and global issues of common concern, including recent developments in regions adjacent to India and Finland, such as the Ukraine conflict.

The Indian delegation was led by Sanjay Verma, Secretary (West) at the Ministry of External Affairs, while the Finnish delegation was headed by Jukka Salovaara, Permanent State Secretary of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

India-Finland Diplomatic Milestone in 2024: In 2024, both India and Finland will celebrate the 75th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. In light of this significant milestone, both nations have made a joint decision to commemorate it in a fitting manner.

Later this month, in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs, an industry association is set to host the second edition of the India Nordic Baltic Business Conclave. Scheduled for November 22-23, 2023, in New Delhi, this Conclave will serve as a platform for various stakeholders to engage in dialogues centered around key sectors of interest. It aims to foster new business partnerships and pave the way for potential policy adjustments that facilitate these partnerships.

India-NORDIC Relations & Arctic Policy: India's Arctic Policy is of considerable importance in the context of the country's expanding global presence. The deepening India-Nordic relations play a pivotal role in advancing this policy, underlining New Delhi's strategic commitment to the Arctic region. This alignment further strengthens India's ties with the European Union (EU), which are steadily gaining momentum.

Notably, the United States is the only country besides India with which the Nordic nations have an exclusive collaboration at the summit level. This unique synergy contributes to the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Several Nordic multinational corporations, including Volvo, Ericsson, IKEA, Tetra Pak, Kone, Ahlstrom, Wärtsilä, and Nokia, are actively operating in India, bolstering the Indian market and substantially contributing to economic growth, technological collaboration, and job creation.

Simultaneously, the enhanced collaboration between the Nordic countries' Smart Cities Project and India's ambitious Smart Cities Project is boosting shared economic progress. Additionally, India's investments in Nordic countries have seen a notable increase.

Currently, more than 70 Indian companies have established their presence in Sweden, and Indian firms are making a growing impact in Denmark, Finland, and Norway, particularly in the IT, automobile, and pharmaceutical sectors. This reciprocal business and investment partnership is instrumental in elevating the bilateral relationship to strategic heights.

Importantly, Nordic states are increasingly interested in engaging within the framework of the India-European Union Free Trade Agreement, anticipated to be concluded in the near future, which promises to foster mutual economic growth.

The collaboration between India and Nordic states on innovation and clean technology has been progressively gaining momentum, combining India's talent pool and digitization efforts with Nordic states' expertise in innovation and green technology transfer. This cooperation underscores the mutual interest in investing in "innovative and sustainable solutions" and identifying opportunities in sectors such as food processing, agriculture, health projects, and life sciences.

India's Arctic Policy, introduced on March 17, 2022, responds to the urgent need for clear articulation in the rapidly changing Arctic, which is experiencing warming three times faster than the global average. This accelerated warming has substantial implications for global shipping routes and the increased availability of mineral and hydrocarbon resources, with far-reaching geopolitical and resource-related consequences for India and the world.

The necessity for an Arctic Policy in India can be categorized into three key aspects: scientific research, climate change, and environmental concerns; economic and human resources; and geopolitical and strategic considerations. Each of these aspects contributes to India's interest in the Arctic region.

Russia plays a dominant role in the Arctic, accounting for almost half of the region's area, coastline, population, mineral wealth, and hydrocarbons. Despite a relatively small population in the Russian Arctic, it significantly contributes to Russia's GDP and exports. Russia's vested interest in the Arctic has led to soliciting funding and cooperation for infrastructure development, especially along the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

However, India's approach to the Arctic has had some gaps. While the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has recognized India's interests in the Arctic as scientific, environmental, commercial, and strategic, it was one of the four out of 13 Observer nations of the Arctic Council without a nationally articulated Arctic Policy until recently. India needs to transition beyond a purely scientific perspective and develop a more nuanced understanding of Arctic geopolitics and governance, given its growing global stature.

Currently, India's polar research is budgeted under the Polar Science and Cryosphere (PACER) program of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). The funding allocated for Arctic research is comparatively modest, indicating the need for increased investment to support India's Arctic endeavors.

The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), under the MoES, serves as the nodal agency for India's polar research program, including Arctic studies. The MEA manages India's engagement with the Arctic Council, connecting through the United Nations Economic & Social (UNES) Division.

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