India to sign slew of pacts with Ethiopia

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New Delhi, Oct 3 (UNI) Implementing an investment promotion deal and finalising a new trade agreement will be among key elements of a slew of several bilateral initiatives that will be taken by India and Ethiopia during fifth meeting of their Joint Trade Commission being held in Addis Ababa on October 6-7, Commerce ministry said here today.

Minister of State for Commerce&Power Jairam Ramesh is leading the Indian delegation to the meeting.

India, which is the largest foreign investor in Ethiopia, is expected to sign pacts for expanding supply of raw skins and hides from Ethiopia for the country's growing leather manufacturing industry, and for setting up an apparel fashion design institute and a 38 megawatt hydel project in Ethiopia.

Agreements on standards, small and medium enterprises and agricultural research between the two nations are on the anvil, the Ministry said.

India is also bidding to participate in Ethiopia's railway modernisation and expansion programme.

Indian private companies are already using Ethiopia as a base for the export of flowers to Europe. Roses are most important among flowers being cultivated and exported out of Ethiopia.

With India having secured approval for investing 3.5 billion dollar in Ethiopia, including two billion dollar in the agriculture and floriculture sectors, the two countries are also negotiating a double taxation avoidance agreement which is expected to be clinched in next three months.

Since India enjoys a huge trade surplus with Ethiopia (exports in 2007-08 were over 400 million dollars as against imports of around 14 million dollars), the country's delegation will also explore new avenues for imports from Ethiopia to India such as pulses and potash.

Ethiopia has large deposits of potash, while India imports 100 per cent of its requirement for potassic fertilisers.

India has already notified duty free tariff preference scheme for import from 34 least developing countries, including Ethiopia.

The scheme was announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the India-Africa Forum Summit held here in April.

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