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IBSA experiment will benefit all the members, says Singh

Gulf Times, Qatar

IBSA experiment will benefit all the members, says Singh

14 September 2006

BRASILIA: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday spoke strongly in favour of the newly emerging trilateral co-operation between India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA), saying all three countries stand to benefit from it in working for their energy security, creating synergies in trade and technology and in enhanced transport connectivity.

In remarks at the first meeting of the heads of state/governments with CEOs from the three countries who are also meeting in this Brazilian capital, the prime minister said: "The success of our experiment to pursue development within the framework of an open economy and an open society is vital to the well-being and empowerment of millions of people in Asia, Africa and Latin America."

He said the advantages of such a trilateral co-operation are evident, particularly in the areas of energy security.

"Brazil is a world leader in the use of ethanol. South Africa has coal gasification technology and a well-developed synthetic fuel industry. India, on the other hand, has expertise in wind and solar energy. IBSA can be effective in utilising our respective competitive strengths in these alternate energy technologies," the prime minister said.

He said the three countries should pursue the target of $10bn in intra-IBSA trade that was set in 2004, soon after the three rising powers of the three continents decided to set up their unique grouping in 2003.

Singh said India was in discussions on a possible trade arrangement that would link with MERCOSUR (the South American trade grouping) and the Southern African Customs Union.

"We expect this would create a large and expanding economic space that would allow the utilisation of synergies in trade and technology."

Besides trade liberalisation, "we also plan to institute arrangements that would address issues relating to the facilitation of trade in goods, services and of investment," he said.

According to Singh, India would be ready to take "bold decisions" to establish better connectivity between the three countries so that trade, tourism and other interaction between the three can be enhanced.

Singh asked businesses and governments in all three countries to work together to fully exploit the potential of IBSA, saying the emerging partnership "illustrates the global village in which we live together today."

Others present at the summit were Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, South African President Thabo Mbeki as well CEOs and captain of industry from the three countries.

Earlier in the day, Singh said India and Brazil will work together to bring a new world order, especially in areas like reforming the UN Security Council and facilitating the conclusion of multilateral trade talks.

In a statement at a joint press conference with Lula da Silva, the prime minister also emphasised on pushing two-way trade and economic relations between the two countries that has seen an upsurge recently.

"We must endeavour and we shall be seeking to build a new international order, which is both more equitable and more participatory for developing countries," the prime minister said, after his summit-level talks with the Brazilian president.

"We have worked together in the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and are both united in our desire for the successful conclusion of the Doha Round of negotiations. We have been partners in the G-4 efforts to work towards expansion of the permanent membership of the UN Security Council."

Singh said bilateral trade between India and Brazil had grown five-fold from a mere $500mn in 2002 to $2.5bn now and added that the proposed preferential trade pact with a Latin American grouping would help in pushing the trade ties further.

The prime minister said investments by Indian companies in Brazil were also seeing an upswing. "Major Indian companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Ranbaxy, and Dr Reddy’s have taken advantage of opportunities in the Brazilian market."

He said the areas that offered considerable scope for enhancing bilateral trade and investment ties included agricultural, food processing, pharmaceuticals, information technology and biotechnology.

In the energy sector, Singh said ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas arm of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp, had earmarked $400mn for acquiring an offshore block in southeast Brazil.

"Indian companies from both the public and private sectors have evinced interest in exploring production opportunities in Brazil to meet the anticipated growth in ethanol used in India for both industrial as well as automobile use," he said.

"We have supported the ‘Ethanol Initiative’ proposed by President Lula." - IANS