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Mexico’s President Calderon in India to boost bilateral trade, strengthen political ties

The Associated Press

September 10, 2007

Mexico’s President Calderon in India to boost bilateral trade, strengthen political ties

NEW DELHI: India and Mexico vowed Monday to more than double their trade by 2010, while pledging to strengthen ties through increased cooperation on international issues like terrorism.

The countries signed several agreements as Mexican President Felipe Calderon held talks with Indian leaders, seeking to boost bilateral relations.

Calderon, the first Mexican leader to visit India in 22 years, also wooed Indian businesses, saying they would benefit from investing in Mexico because of the access it has to some of the world’s biggest markets, including the United States.

"Mexico has a privileged status," Calderon told a gathering Indian business leaders, pointing to the country’s 12 free trade pacts, including the NAFTA, and 23 other regional trade agreements.

Mexico and India are both emerging economies that have seen rapid expansion in recent years, but few businesses have seized the opportunity to invest in the other’s country.

"Our contemporary contacts have not been as intense as they should be," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said ahead of his meeting. "This visit gives us the opportunity to think big about cooperation in diverse fields."

Two-way trade totaled only US$1.8 billion (€1.3 billion) in 2006, or less than 1 percent of what each of the countries trade with the rest of the world.

During their talks, Singh and Calderon agreed that bilateral trade should increase to US$5 billion (€3.6 billion) by 2010.

Both identified information technology, pharmaceuticals and energy as key areas of cooperation.

"The potential of trade and investment between Mexico and India is tremendous," said Calderon, who was accompanied by more than 100 Mexican business executives. "We are losing opportunity in both countries."

Although economic issues dominated Calderon’s visit, the Mexican leader said he also wanted greater cooperation on foreign policy because Mexico and India, with their growing economic might, were set for bigger roles in world affairs.

The countries also signed an extradition treaty and a mutual legal assistance agreement.

The legal assistance treaty will help deal with crimes related to terrorism, and the extradition treaty is aimed at suppressing crime by ensuring that fugitive criminals are brought to trial, the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.

A double taxation avoidance agreement was also signed to encourage investment from both countries, the statement said.

On Tuesday, Calderon was set to visit the technology hub of Bangalore to get a look at the success of Indian outsourcing companies. Several Bangalore-based information technology companies operate centers in Mexico to provide service to U.S.-based clients.

 source: IHT