Zee News (India) | 12 January 2007
India seeks Portugal support in India-EU free trade agreement
New Delhi, Jan 12: India on Friday said with Portugal taking presidency of the European Union by July, the strong ties between the two countries would help expedite the proposed free trade agreement between India and the EU.
"We are pleased that for the next India-EU summit to be held in India later this year, the EU delegation would be led by Portugal," Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said at a business meet with the visiting Portugal delegation organised by FICCI here.
As a member of the European Union - India’s main trading partner - Portugal is also a platform for providing access to a consolidated market of 500 million people in South America and Africa, Sharma said.
"To make our economic cooperation more robust, we need to facilitate movement of business persons, professionals and tourists," he added.
Emphasising on the need to increase bilateral trade with Portugal, Sharma outlined information technology, biotechnology, agri business and food processing, tourism, textiles, chemicals and pharmaceuticals as sectors for the two countries to collaborate in.
"We need to strengthen economic relations and hopefully in the next India-EU summit to be held in India in July, some major announcements in this regard would be made," he said.
Business and trade ties between India and Portugal are much below potential. India’s trade with Portugal was merely 290 million dollars in 2005. The Portugese Ministry of Trade has identified India as a market to be developed on a priority basis.
"Relations between Portugal and India in the economic field and in bilateral cooperation have remained far below their full potential. Flows of information and communication between our countries must be strengthened," Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva said.
Silva said the two countries must mobilise will of their political, economic, cultural and scientific communities to a greater extent to build this relationship. "Politicians must contribute by creating suitable conditions for business to materialise," he added.
The President is accompanied by a business delegation comprising entrepreneurs from sectors like information technology, robotics, biotechnology, tourism, banking, engineering and construction.
"The Portuguese companies are interested in India and in setting up partnerships with Indian entrepreneurs in the future," he said.
People to people contact through tourism initiatives can create greater awareness of each others’ strengths and opportunities for economic cooperation and business visits, Silva added.