A Huge Impetus To Regional Partnership
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the second India-Nordic Summit at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen. Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the 2nd India-Nordic Summit along with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir of Iceland, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre of Norway, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland. Before attending the India-Nordic Summit, Modi held separate bilateral talks with the prime ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
The Summit provided an opportunity to review the progress of the India-Nordic relations since the 1st India-Nordic Summit, which was held in April 2018 in Stockholm. The second summit, earlier scheduled to take place in June 2021, has been re-convened without much delay. The significance of this event can be assessed from the fact that the US is the only other country with which the Nordic states have an engagement at the summit level.
Discussions were held on multilateral cooperation in post-pandemic economic recovery, climate change, sustainable development, innovation, digitalization, and green and clean growth. Discussions were also held on cooperation in maritime sector with a focus on sustainable ocean management. Prime Minister invited Nordic companies for investing in the Blue Economy sector, especially in India’s Sagarmala project. India’s partnership with the Nordic region in the Arctic Region was discussed. Prime Minister noted that India’s Arctic Policy provides a good framework for expansion of India-Nordic cooperation in the Arctic region. Prime Minister invited the sovereign wealth funds of the Nordic countries to invest in India. Discussions also took place on regional and global developments.
India and the Nordic states have huge strengths and complementarities. They share a convergence in values in freedom of speech, religion and media; all are free-market economies and they all promote gender equality. Nordic countries collectively represent an economy of more than $1.6 trillion. As per Nordic statistics, total bilateral trade in goods and services between India and the Nordic countries is $13 billion. India's trade with Nordic countries stands at over USD 5 billion (2020-21). Over the last four years, India has interacted extensively with all the Nordic leaders. All these countries figure among the top achievers in several areas of human endeavour, particularly innovation, clean energy, green technologies, and education. These present enormous opportunities for India to plug into the strengths of these countries to mutual benefit.
India presents an ideal opportunity to these countries because of its large market as also its youth dividend. Maintaining peace, ensuring security and promoting sustainable economic development of the Arctic Region is another area which presents immense possibilities to strengthen bilateral partnership. The first India-Nordic Summit in 2018 reiterated the six countries' commitment towards cooperation in global security, economic growth, innovation and climate change. In the second summit, leaders need to build on the success and progress in relations in the preceding years.
Modi's tour of Copenhagen will contribute significantly to realise the immense untapped potential for cooperation. Notwithstanding the explosion of information today, a huge information gap exists between these countries. Decision and policy-makers as well as common people in India have scant knowledge about the Nordic countries, and vice versa. It is essential to give more energy to this blossoming partnership. The initiative of the India-Nordic Summit needs to be nurtured constantly.