PM Modi's visit short, focussed Davos visit sign that we engage with world: Government

Modi will be accompanied by six union ministers, including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Piyush Goyal, Suresh Prabhu, Dharmendra Pradhan, M J Akbar and Jitendra Singh. (File photo) Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Agencies New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 19, 2018, 09.48 AM (IST)

The government today said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Switzerland's Davos to attend the World Economic Forum will last just for 24 hours.

"Prime Minister's upcoming visit to Davos is very short. It will be only for 24 hours and will be very focussed. This is a sign that we engage with the globe," said Vijay Gokhale, MEA Secretary (economic relations).

PM Modi, accompanied by six Union ministers, will be in Davos on January 22-23 and give the opening plenary. On the sidelines of the high-profile event, Modi will hold a number of important bilateral meetings with various world leaders.

Modi will also meet Switzerland's President Alain Berset and the two leaders are expected to discuss the envisaged free trade agreement between India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Switzerland is a member.

India has framed a model Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) and is now negotiating it with several countries. Besides, the talks have been going on for a long time for a free trade agreement between India and the four-member EFTA (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).

The trade pact talks had started in October 2008 and several rounds of negotiations have taken place since then. The proposed agreement covers trade in goods and services, investments, trade facilitation, customs cooperation, protection of intellectual property and public procurement.

The two-way trade between the regions dropped to US $19 billion in 2016-17, from US $21.5 billion in 2015-16. The trade gap is highly in favour of the EFTA group.

Under an FTA, trading partners give market access to each other with a view to promoting bilateral trade in goods and services, besides investments.

However, Swiss government's statement released on Friday on PM Modi's visit, did not mention black money - an issue which has been central to most of the high-level deliberations between the two countries.