Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his counterparts from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark today vowed to deepen cooperation between India and the Nordic countries, as the leaders deliberated on key issues of security, economic growth and climate change.

Modi and the leaders of the five Nordic countries participated in the first India-Nordic Summit co-hosted by India and Sweden here.

Modi, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Finnish Premier Juha Sipila, Iceland Premier Katrin Jakobsdottir, Norwegian Premier Erna Solberg and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven participated at the Summit titled ‘India-Nordic Summit: Shared Values, Mutual Prosperity’.

‘Deepen cooperation’

“The Prime Ministers pledged to deepen cooperation between India and the Nordic countries and focused their discussions on key issues related to global security, economic growth, innovation and climate change,” a joint statement issued after the summit said. “They acknowledged that innovation and digital transformation drive growth in an interconnected world, which underpin a growing engagement between India and the Nordic countries,” it said.

The leaders reaffirmed the importance of free trade as a catalyst for achieving inclusive growth and realising the Sustainable Development Goals. They acknowledged that innovation and digital transformation drive growth in an interconnected world, and underpin a growing engagement between the Nordic countries and India, it said.

The role of the Nordic countries as global innovation leaders was underlined. The Nordic approach to innovation systems, characterised by a strong collaboration between public sector, private sector and academia, was discussed, and synergies were identified with India’s rich pool of talent and skills.

The summit emphasised the Indian government’s strong commitment to innovation and digital initiatives as key to prosperity and sustainable development, with national flagship programmes such as Make in India, Startup India, Digital India and Clean India.

Nordic solutions in clean technologies, maritime solutions, port modernisation, food processing, health, life-sciences and agriculture were also discussed.

The leaders noted that the unique strengths of India and the Nordic countries offer immense opportunities for trade and investment diversification and mutually beneficial collaboration, the statement said.

During the talks, the importance of the rules-based multilateral trading system as well as open and inclusive international trade for prosperity and growth was underlined. Modi and the leaders acknowledged that terrorism and violent extremism were major challenges for the international community.

“They discussed global security, including cyber security, based on their shared values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and their commitment to uphold the rules-based international system. They also discussed export control and non-proliferation,” it said.

The Nordic countries welcomed India’s application for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and reaffirmed their commitment to work constructively within the Group with the aim of reaching a positive outcome at the earliest opportunity, the statement said.

UNSC reforms

India and the Nordic nations also reaffirmed their support for the UN and the Secretary-General’s reform efforts to ensure a UN fit to support member states to deliver on Agenda 2030 and took note of his proposals to strengthen the UN, including in the areas of development, peace operations, peacebuilding and conflict prevention.

The Nordic countries and India reaffirmed the need for reform of the UN Security Council, including its expansion in both permanent and non-permanent seats to make it more representative, accountable, effective and responsive to the realities of the 21st century. The Nordic nations agreed that India is a strong candidate for a permanent seat in a reformed UN Security Council expanded with both permanent and non-permanent members, the statement said.

The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development as well as the ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement. They agreed that a strong partnership can help spur innovations, economic growth, sustainable solutions and mutually beneficial trade and investments.

Ahead of the summit, Modi held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from all five Nordic countries. India has substantial economic ties with the Nordic nations. Annual India-Nordic trade is about USD 5.3 billion while the cumulative Nordic FDI into India is worth USD 2.5 billion.

Five MoUs were signed on the occasion with the Nordic countries. These include on cooperation in the field of sustainable and smart urban development, animal husbandry and dairying, food safety cooperation, and agricultural research and education with Denmark, and on the establishment of an ICCR Chair for Hindi Language with Iceland.

Modi is here on the first leg of his five-day foreign tour which will also take him to the UK and Germany.