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    Swedish consumer companies like IKEA, H&M all want to come to India: Minister

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    Saying that there is hardly a Swedish firm that is not interested in India, a visiting minister said that, after the top companies, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from that country are looking to tap the potential in the waste, energy and transportation markets in India.

    Swedish consumer companies like IKEA, H&M all want to come to India: Minister
    Ericsson was in India a 100 years ago and a new phase is emerging where consumer companies like IKEA and H&M are entering the Subcontinent

    “There’s isn’t a single Swedish company that is not interested to invest in India. Everybody is looking at India as a power house. Sweden has a number of very big and large corporations here for long time. We had been making in India before it became fashionable. Ericsson was here a 100 years ago and a new phase is where consumer companies like and are coming,” Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, Eva Svedling, who was here to extend expertise and tap opportunities, told IANS in an interview.

    At present there are 170 Swedish companies in India that directly employ 185,000 people. While most of the big companies are already here, Svedling said that now the SMEs are seeking to come in.

    “One clear area is transportation. It’s very important for the climate agenda, electrification and new transport solutions. We need to make public transport affordable, accessible and keep the environment in mind.”

    Speaking of challenges, Svedling said: “I see more than one challenge. However, creating sustainable transportation is one of the biggest challenges. To be able to do this, we need long-term goals,” she said.

    “Waste management is another area where we will continue extending our experience and knowledge. We need to develop techniques here and focus on waste management in the whole area of the circular economy,” she said

    According to several market experts, with India revising its waste management rules in 2016 after over a decade, a potential $13 billion market has been created.

    “We have experience in that area (waste management). We are now focusing on new materials like recycling textile and plastic and building a solid circular economy based on it.”

    “I also realise the importance of education in schools to teach children on how to separate and handle waste. I was taught that when I was a kid. We have been doing that for many years; such initiatives are very important,” she said.

    She said that at present there are three ongoing MoUs with the Indian government on environment, sustainable development, renewable energy and Smart Cities.

    “Additionally, I hope that there will be more visibility at the heart of the future collaborations with India… we have expertise in the area of city planing, health and human rights, and its not just the technical solutions that we offer,” the minister said.

    As for the Smart Cities, Svedling said these should suit Indian needs and perspective.

    “When you start planning such cities you need to have a dialogue with people for a sustainable solution. We have methods for inclusive planning. In Mumbai we met women engaged in waste management, we sat around the table and discussed. You have to come up with the solutions and the way to do that is to create dialogues with NGOs, businesses and citizens who are going to be part of that system,” she explained.

    (Kushagra Dixit can be contacted at kushagra.d@ians.in)