Muscat, Nov 9 : Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on Saturday said that he expected India's economy to grow by a healthy 7 to 7.5 per cent in 2009, despite the global financial crisis eroding output across sectors.
Addressing the business community here, Dr. Singh said, "Due to the current financial crisis, growth rate may come down somewhat next year, but I am still confident that we will be able to achieve a rate of between 7-7.5 per cent."
"We are extremely pleased to see the rapid progress, which Oman has made under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Oman's progress is a tribute to the hard work and spirit of enterprise of its people and the wise stewardship of His Majesty, he added.
"The destinies of the Gulf countries and India are closely interlinked. We have had a tradition of trade and civilisational contacts through the sea over many centuries. The large Indian community in Oman serves as a bridge between us, contributing to wealth and prosperity for both Oman and India. Today, the revolution in the communications and information technology sectors has brought us even closer together," he said
Dr. Singh also said that there are presently over 125 weekly flights between India and Oman, and new capacity addition are being planned. Our total non-oil trade, which was less than 200 million US dollars in 2000, has gone up seven fold to around 1.4 billion US dollars this year. This figure could soon cross two billion dollars, he added.
"On the investment front, the Oman-India Fertilizer Company stands as a shining example of our mutual cooperation. There has been an increase in investments in each other's countries during the last 2-3 years," he added.
He further said that our banks are functioning in each other's countries. Several large Indian companies are already located in Oman or are working in partnership with local companies in such sectors as oil and gas, mining, manufacturing, information technology and telecommunications, power and water, construction and real estate, and health care. Similarly, Omani companies have established joint ventures in India.
" There is a Joint Commission at the level of Commerce Ministers and a Joint Business Council representing industry from both sides. They are scheduled to hold their next meetings shortly. We have in place a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement. We actively cooperate within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and an India-GCC Free Trade Agreement is under negotiation," he added.
The Prime Minister praised Oman for its robust economic growth and said there are ambitious plans for investment in infrastructure, diversification of the industrial base, tourism, free trade zones and energy security.
"The Indian economy has witnessed rapid and sustained growth, averaging nine per cent over the last four years. The macro economic fundamentals of the economy are sound. Our domestic savings rate is 35 per cent of our GDP and our investment rate is 37 per cent of our GDP," he added
He said that there is vast potential for cooperation in the energy, fertilizers, IT, tourism and education sectors. Oman should also actively work with their Indian counterparts to explore possibilities of joint ventures in third countries.
Dr. Singh further assured Oman that India would do all that is necessary to facilitate greater trade and investment between the two Countries India and Oman. By Pankaj Chaudhry