"Heard nothing..." Swiss Ambassador opens up on allegation of black money

The Swiss government, Heckner said, wants to see its financial sector shift more towards sustainability.
Ambassador of Switzerland to India Ralf Heckner
Ambassador of Switzerland to India Ralf HecknerANI

NEW DELHI: Switzerland ambassador to India Ralf Heckner on Monday said he "almost heard nothing" on black money in the last two years of his tenure and that the matter was dealt with in bilateral treaty between Switzerland and India by means of automatic exchange of banking information between the two countries. The Swiss envoy said black money is "not an issue anymore."

"I have been Swiss ambassador for more than two years and I almost heard nothing or hardly anything about black money. The black money issue has been dealt with by a bilateral treaty between Switzerland and India in 2018 on the automatic exchange of banking information between Switzerland and India (in both directions)," the Swiss ambassador told ANI.

"We had several batches of information exchanges between Switzerland and India. So the black money issue isn't an issue anymore. There is not one cloud over the bilateral relations when it comes to our financial relations. On the contrary, I see a lot of convergence now because sustainability is very dear to the Honorable Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and the same applies to the Swiss government."

The Swiss government, Heckner said, wants to see its financial sector shift more towards sustainability. Importantly, Ambassador Heckner also confirmed that the Swiss head of state will visit India this summer, without divulging the exact itinerary.

"I am expecting the President of the Swiss Confederation (to visit India). We are expecting it in summer. We are in contact with the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Government to make this happen," he added. On India's G20 presidency, the Ambassador said Switzerland backs India's efforts in sustaining peace and one earth one family and thanked India for extending the invitation.

Further, the Swiss Ambassador said India and Switzerland are holding negotiations on a Free trade Agreement (FTA) and that the Swiss side is keen on concluding it in 2023 itself.

"I will work on getting this done in 2023 but I am not the only person that makes the trade deal happen. But as I said the state secretary of economic affairs will be in town at the beginning of February and that already shows interest from the Swiss side," the Ambassador told ANI.

It is important to note that in a very short span of time, India has carved out two important partnership agreements with UAE and Australia in 2022. The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) came into force on December 29, 2022.

On May 1, 2022, the trade agreement with UAE entered into force on May 1. The India-Australia ECTA provides an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries. It covers almost all the tariff lines dealt with by India and Australia.

India will benefit from preferential market access provided by Australia on 100 percent of its tariff lines, including all the labor-intensive sectors of export interest to India, such as Gems and Jewellery, Textiles, leather, footwear, furniture, food, and agricultural products, engineering products, medical devices, and Automobiles. Through this trade agreement with Australia, it is estimated that an additional 10 lakh jobs would be created in India.

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