NEW DELHI: Ways to effectively combat black money and tax evasion figured extensively during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swiss President Doris Leuthard, who expressed strong commitment to help India to deal with the problem.
Modi thanked Switzerland for helping India become a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a multilateral export control regime, and consistently supporting New Delhi's bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Describing their talks productive, Modi said transparency in financial transactions is a major global challenge and that cooperation between India and Switzerland over it will continue further.
"Be it black money, dirty money, hawala transaction or money related to arms and drugs, our cooperation with Switzerland continues to deal with the global curse," the prime minister said in a statement to the media.
The Swiss president exuded confidence that a law on ensuring automatic exchange of information relating to tax would be cleared by the Swiss parliament by end of the year and her country will be able to exchange first set of information with India by 2019.
"We hope by end of this year, this (law on automatic exchange of information) will be passed and be operational by 2019 when the first exchange can take place," she said, adding India and Switzerland can go hand-in-hand to ensure financial transparency.
The issue of black money has been a matter of major debate in India and Switzerland has been long perceived as one of the safest havens for the illicit wealth allegedly stashed abroad by some Indians.
In his comments, Modi also referred to the joint declaration on exchange of information relating to tax signed by the two sides last year.
"Last year we signed a joint declaration relating to automatic exchange of information relating to tax. As per its provision, after completion of the internal process in Switzerland, information will be shared with us on automatic basis," he said.
Leuthard said her country follows all international rules on financial transaction to ensure transparency, adding "we have probably today one of the strongest laws on money laundering".
The two sides also deliberated on further boosting ties in key sectors like trade and investment, infrastructure and energy while agreeing on the need to continue dialogue on a bilateral investment pact. Two pacts providing for cooperation in railways were also inked.
Giving broad contours of their discussions, Modi said the extensive and productive talks covered bilateral, regional and global issues and that Leuthard's visit further strengthened the bilateral ties.
Modi said there was deliberations on challenges of climate change and both sides agreed to work for implementing the Paris climate accord focusing on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
On trade cooperation, he said FDI has been a major pillar of economic ties and India particularly welcomes Swiss investors.
"We agreed on the need to continue dialogue on bilateral investment pact. Swiss companies have avenues to be part of India's growth and development," he said.
The prime minister said there was deliberation on the trade and economic partnership agreement between India and European Free Trade Association and both the countries expressed resolve to conclude the pact.
On Switzerland support to India's NSG bid, he said, "India will be benefited from membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to meet its growing demand of clean energy."
Leuthard said she was very happy over the outcome of her talks and that there was scope for further expansion of trade ties. In this regard, she underlined the need for having an investment protection pact.
She said Switzerland can offer India "infrastructure of tomorrow" in many areas including in railways.
"Negotiations for it are on. We hope it is important for our investment," she said.
India had joined the MTCR as a full member in June last year. The membership enables India to buy high-end missile technology.
New Delhi has also been pressing for membership of the 48-nation NSG but China has been stonewalling its bid.