India calls for more Arab investment
New Delhi, November 13:
India today reiterated its solidarity with the Arab world, home to over a four million strong Indian diaspora, and called for converting longstanding historical and civilisational ties into a vibrant economic partnership.
“We should use attitudinal ties between people to enhance trade linkages between India and the Arab world. Oil-exporting countries of the Arab world, in particular, should increase investment in India,” finance minister P Chidam-baram said in his inaugural address at an international conference on promoting India-Arab economic relations.
The two-day long conference, which is being attended by ministers, diplomats, academics, business and opinion leaders from India and Arab countries, has been organised by the Indo-Ar-ab Economic Cooperation Forum and the Institute of Objective Studies.
Underlining India’s centuries old multi-faceted ties with the Arab world, Chidambaram spoke about geographical proximity, long-standing cultural and trading ties and ‘unbroken relation of cordiality’ between the two sides.
He, however, rued that the foreign investment from Arab countries in India are much below potential.
“Even rich Arab countries are not investing in India enough,” he said. To further accelerate bilateral trade and investment, the minister said that India will be signing bilateral investment protection agreement with more Arab countries and discussions are already going on for negotiating a free trade area (FTA) between the two sides.
Calling Indian workers in the Gulf countries “an investment of human capital in the Arab world,” Chidambaram said remittances from Indians working in these countries worked out to a whopping $20 billion. In the first quarter of this year alone, remittances have exceeded $6 billion, he said.
Bilateral trade between India and the Arab world has been growing steadily and will scale new heights in the future, he said. FDI from Gulf Cooperation Council countries has exceeded $2 billion this year. Besides the continuing cooperation in energy sector, they supply nearly 30 per cent of India’s major needs like crude oil.