India, Italy to set up joint business panel to boost trade

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Laxmi Devi

Rome, Jan 31 (PTI) India and Italy today decided to setup joint business council (JBC), a bilateral trade cooperationbody, to work together in 10 areas like ICT, infrastructureand manufacturing.

The two sides agreed to constitute the JBC during themeeting here of visiting Indian Commerce and Industry MinisterAnand Sharma and Italian Minister for Economic DevelopmentPaolo Romani.

According to Sharma, the 10-areas in which cooperationcan be increased include, infrastructure, manufacturing, ICTand textiles.

"Italy is an important trading partner for India and isin the top 6 trading partners in the European Union," Sharmasaid. The current trade between the two countries is USD 7.5billion.

The JBC, will be managed by Ficci from the Indian sideand by CONFINDUSTRIA from the Italian side. It will meet oncea year, coinciding with the bilateral ministerial meeting.

The two ministers also discussed the importance of SMEsand it was agreed that soon industry chambers of both thecountries will organise workshops and seminars.

Seeking closer cooperation in infrastructure sector,Sharma informed Romani that India will soon come out with amanufacturing policy aimed at increasing the contribution ofmanufacturing to 24 per cent of the GDP, from 16 per cent now.

Romani assured India that Italian entrepreneurs will takehuge advantage of the investment opportunities in India.

Later, Sharma said India is committed to the successfulconclusion of the Doha Round of talks for a global trade deal.

Briefing on his meeting last week in Davos with key WTOmembers including EU, China, Brazil and South Africa, Sharmasaid, "We all have recognised that 2011 provides the window ofopportunity (for conclusion of the talks)".

He said all members will "collectively endeavour" toclose the remaining gaps accepting the mandate and the spiritof G-20 Summit declaration.

At the last G-20 meeting in Seoul in November, leaders ofthe world''s most influential countries like the US and the EU,India and Brazil had pressed for concluding the WTO talks fora multilateral agreement in 2011.

Doha round of talks, under the aegis of the World TradeOrganisation (WTO), started in the Qatari capital in 2001 forachieving a global trade deal, but a breakthrough has not beenreached yet.

"I remain optimistic and cautious. I think we all havecommitment. The negotiations are complex. We should be able tosettle matters in a spirit of mutual accommodation," Sharmasaid. .

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