Indo-Greek bilateral trade to double by 2010: Greek PM

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New Delhi, Jan 11 (UNI) As investment flows surge between India and Greece, bilateral trade is expected to double by 2010, Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis said here today.

''The target to double the volume of our bilateral trade by 2010, seems attainable and viable,'' Mr Karamanlis said while addressing a meeting with Indian industries jointly organised by FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM here.

He added that a steady growth was seen in bilateral trade, but it remains below the potential of the two countries.

Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, who was present, observed that both governments had a crucial role to play in bringing together businesses.

He said a mutual commitment was made to double trade between the two countries to exceed one billion euros by 2010 during the visit of the then President APJ Abdul Kalam to Greece in April last year.

''A large potential exists and both sides have to actively undertake measures to realise this potential. Bilateral trade between the two countries has shown a robust growth during the last two years,'' Mr Nath said.

On the Greek economy, Mr Karamanlis elaborated that it was being ''transformed into a more dynamic, more open and more competitive economy. And as a result, FDI in Greece has reached 4.3 billion in 2006, nine times higher than in 2005.'' Drawing attention to the steady growth in investment flows between the two countries, Mr Nath said major Indian IT companies like Infosys and TCS already had a presence in Greece.

Similarly, Greek companies such as Eurodyn and Pisani Group MJ Mailis, have invested in India.

Mr Nath also expressed hope that the agreement on cooperation in science and technology, signed during the visit of Indian President to Greece last year, would lay the foundation for an enhanced cooperation between the two countries.

''India is emerging as a global services provider especially in the Information Technology and software sector,'' Mr Nath said.

Greece is a safe market with modern infrastructure in the fields of combined transportation, telecommunications and a complete legal framework which offers incentives, such as tax or grant exemptions for attracting foreign investors.

Greek products such as machinery, lubricants, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, packaging and construction materials, processed food and beverages, clothing, informatics and services had good export potential in the Indian market, Mr Karamanlis said.

''Our commitment is to provide a positive business environment to foster the bilateral trading relationship. The effort made by the industry associations on both sides to enhance the levels of contacts among businesses is heartening and they deserve to be congratulated for their efforts,'' he said.

Mr Karamanlis commended the liberal tax reforms, new investment regulations, laws on public private partnerships, liberalisation of the energy market, reduction in corporate tax rates and simplifications of procedures and said these have opened new investment opportunities for businesses in India.

He added that there was a need to further strengthen the institutional framework between two countries, saying priority should be given to the signing of the revised agreement on the avoidance of double taxation as well as to the conclusion of the agreement on Air transport services.

The Greek Prime Minister also invited the Indian companies to take advantage of the opportunities in the wider area of the Balkans and the Black Sea.

He said the Turkey-Greece-Italy natural gas pipeline (TGI-Interconnector), which is expected to be ready in the next five years, would transform Greece into an energy hub, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

UNI SD SR/SBA AS2055

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