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Hope smooth Brexit, FTAs with other countries: Sweden’s trade minister

If the UK fails to get the new Brexit bill through Parliament in time, the default legal position remains for Britain to leave the economic bloc without a deal on October 31.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Oct 23, 2019, 08.10 PM IST
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STOCKHOLM: Sweden’s trade minister Anna Hallberg has said that there are hopes for an agreement on Brexit and that it should be as smooth as possible.

“There cannot be a hard Brexit, a hard Brexit would not be good for anyone,” Hallberg, who is minister for foreign trade, with responsibility for Nordic affairs, said after her meeting with commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday here. Goyal is in Stockholm to attend the 19th Indo-Swedish Joint Commission and leading the Indian delegation comprising CII CEOs.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday "paused" his Brexit Bill for leaving the EU by the October 31 deadline. If the UK fails to get the new Brexit bill through Parliament in time, the default legal position remains for Britain to leave the economic bloc without a deal on October 31.

“Of course, it's important for me as a minister for trade, and for all ministers for trade and the EU commissioner, that we also can continue to develop free trade agreements (FTA) with other countries and other areas of the world. It shoudn't stop,” she said, adding that EU and India can take steps further when it comes to FTAs.

“We share a common view there”, she said.

Talks for an India-EU Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) have been stuck for six years and likely to resume later this year after elections in the EU.

As per an official statement, the minister “looked forward to working towards achieving a bilateral trade of $5 billion in the next 5 years as proposed by Goyal”. India-Sweden bilateral trade was $2.11 billion in 2018-19.

Infrastructure sectors of railways, aviation, environment sectors such as water and health and education are the areas where Sweden could invest in India.

During his visit, Goyal also met Ibrahim Baylan, Swedish Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation

“He assured the Swedish side that India is committed to a balanced outcome for the BTIA that finds a mutually acceptable way forward for both sides,” the commerce and industry ministry said in a statement.

(The author is in Stockholm at the invitation of CII)

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