New Delhi, May 15: Eager to deepen trade ties with India, Swiss Economic Affairs Minister Johann N Schneider- Ammann today said the 'Modi spirit' is well known even in Switzerland and it was keen to partner India's growth story.
Ammann, the first Swiss Minister to visit India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government came to power in May last year, was all praise for the new government and said he wants the same "visionary spirit" to continue when Indian ministers engage in negotiations on various trade agreements.
Switzerland, which has largely been in focus in India because of the black money issue, is keen to expand trade ties with India across various sectors and Ammann's visit is part of these efforts.
On the first day of his three-day visit, Ammann said he discussed business relations, FTA negotiations, among other issues, in his meeting with his Indian counterpart and Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
"I have a big business delegation with me. I wanted the business representatives of Switzerland to have a direct access and first-hand experience with the Ministries and the Ministers in India," he said in a media briefing.
"Switzerland is a small country and I have 20 business representatives with me, representing 8 million people. I told the Minister if she wants to bring a delegation with similar representation to Switzerland, she would need 4,500-5,000 representatives as India is a big country," he said.
"This was my first meeting with her, although I have already met (Finance Minister) Jaitley once in Davos earlier this year when he came to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting," said Ammann, who also had meetings today with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Skills Development Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, among others.
"I knew before coming to India that the new government is a government that has high sensitivities about economic progress. The Modi spirit is well known, even in Switzerland.
"When I met the ministers here, I could see the visionary spirit of this government and I hope that the same spirit would continue when Sitharaman joins the Free Trade Agreement negotiations between India and the EFTA (European Free Trade Association of which Switzerland is a member)," he said.
On FTA, he said it was too early to put a specific time-frame on when the negotiations could reach a conclusion. Ammann said that Europe was going through a delicate economic situation, but the quantitative easing by the European Central Bank has helped the situation.
Committing Switzerland's support in India's fight against the black money menace, the Minister also said the Swiss Parliament will soon consider changes in laws to look into the possibility of sharing information in cases being probed on the basis of stolen data of Swiss bank accounts.