Economic and Commercial Affairs Section/Swiss Business Hub India
The Economic Trade and Finance Section of the Swiss Embassy, headed by Mr. Florin Müller, promotes the bilateral economic and financial relations between Switzerland and India.
Over the years, economic and financial relations between Switzerland and India have become more and more comprehensive; building economic and financial bridges, rapidly evolving into a full-fledged partnership between two countries which are unequal in terms of size and economic structure but share a common commitment to actively take part in the globalizing world. Today, India is a priority country in the framework of Switzerland's Foreign Economic Policy.
Concretely, the Section fulfils the following tasks:
- It works at bilateral and multilateral level with Ministries, Private sector partners, Business Associations, NGO’s and Think Tanks.
- It reports on important developments in India’s economy, on fiscal and financial issues, on the Government’s reform agenda and on new trends of special interest for Swiss stakeholders.
- It supports Swiss companies facing challenges while doing business in India whenever possible..
- Generally, it is aimed to ensure good frame-work conditions for doing business, to foster trade and investment, to facilitate access to foreign markets and to ensure a “level playing field”.
Swiss Indian Bilateral Trade
India is a country of high importance for Swiss foreign economic policy. It is Switzerland’s fourth largest trading partner in Asia, and its first in South Asia. India, one of the fastest growing emerging economies, offers a plethora of business opportunities for Swiss companies.
Switzerland is the 11th. As per the latest Swiss National Bank data, Swiss companies made investments worth CHF 4’614 billion (US$ 4.61 billion) in India between 2000 and March 2018. Swiss companies have created over 82,000 jobs in India so far. Over the last years, the number of Swiss companies active in India has further increased, with currently around 250 subsidiaries, joint ventures, branches or liaison offices present.
The companies have successfully taken advantage of business opportunities to grow within a promising Indian market environment. Numerous Swiss companies have established new manufacturing plants in order to mitigate the consequences of the strong Swiss franc and high import duties in the value conscious Indian market. A major part of Swiss investment in India has gone into engineering and industrial equipment, services (tourism, financial, logistics etc.), precision instruments, chemical and pharmaceutical, electrical and electronics, construction and consumer goods sectors.
According to Swiss foreign trade statistics (provisional data), Swiss exports to India in 2017 amounted to CHF 19’510.8 Mio (+36.2%), while Swiss imports from India in 2017 amounted to CHF 1’617.2 Mio (+9.4%).
Switzerland and India have a strong relationship in terms of trade in services. Tourist arrivals from India have been growing steadily for many years, with 739’185 overnights spent by Indians in Switzerland during 2017 (+140’123). A good number of Swiss companies are active in India in the field of engineering services, either as independent service providers or as part of high-tech machinery suppliers. Switzerland is a major market for Indian companies engaged in IT related services. The export of software and other IT enabled services from India to Switzerland is estimated to be around US$ 2 billion annually.
Several well-established intergovernmental dialogues exist between the two countries. The Joint Economic Commission meets regularly to discuss economic issues of mutual interest. The last meeting took place in New Delhi in February 2018. In addition, a Financial Dialogue between the Swiss State Secretariat for International Financial Matters and the Indian Ministry of Finance was initiated in 2012 and since then the officials from both sides have met on a number of occasions.
With regard to a Free Trade Agreement - Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) - the negotiations between EFTA member states and India were reactivated in 2016. The 17th round of India-EFTA negotiations took place in September 2017 in New Delhi, negotiations are ongoing. Further, negotiations between Switzerland and India on a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) are ongoing.
Switzerland and India signed, in December 2017, a mutual agreement related to the introduction of the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) in tax matters, on a reciprocal basis. It is implemented as of 1st January 2018, with a first exchange of data in autumn 2019. The signing of the Mutual Agreement with India confirms Switzerland's international commitment to implementing the AEOI standard, and that it is moving forward to strengthen its network of AEOI partner states.
Switzerland is also the 7th largest recipient of Indian investments (US$ 1.72 billion received over the last three years). About 140 Indian companies have a presence in Switzerland.
Preventing corruption - information for Swiss business operating abroad
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has published a brochure on corruption in international business transactions. The brochure can help companies to become familiar with related international conventions and applicable regulations of the Swiss criminal law.
It highlights the effects of corruption on businesses and proposes measures that can be taken to prevent and actively combat corrupt conduct. The legal terms are illustrated by different real-life scenarios.
The brochure was elaborated in cooperation with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Switzerland, economiesuisse, Transparency International Switzerland, a.o.
A third, updated edition was published in November 2017. Download guidelines (PDF, 2.1 MB, English)
Beginning of our trade relations
The commercial and trading relationship between India and Switzerland date back to the pre-independence days of India. It was as early as 1851 that a Swiss operation was established in India by the Volkart Brothers. This relationship got further reinforced when India and Switzerland signed the Treaty of Friendship on 14th August 1948, one of the first such treaties to be signed by independent India.
Furthermore, the various bilateral agreements, e.g. Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, and Agreement on Social Security, provide business-friendly environment for enterprises of both the countries.