New Delhi, Mar 12 (UNI) Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen arrived here this evening for discussions with Dr Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders on trade and business opportunities and regional and international situation.
He was received by Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma.
The visit of the Finnish Prime Minister is significant as Finland assumes Presidency of the European Union (EU) in the second half of 2006.
The India-EU Summit and the Business Summit are also scheduled to take place during the Finnish Presidency.
The Finnish Prime Minister began his India visit on Friday when he arrived in Chennai. He inaugurated a Nokia plant there.
Tomorrow, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, Shipping Minister T R Baalu and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha L K Advani will call on him.
He will also have a meeting with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
In the evening, he will have a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The two countries will also have delegation-level talks on various issues of bilateral, regional and international interest. The Prime Minister will host a dinner in his honour.
Mr Vanhanen who is accompanied by Mrs Susanna Huovinen, Minister of Transport and Communication, senior officials and a high-level business delegation, will address a business luncheon meeting co-hosted by Assocham, CII and FICCI.
''The bilateral visit assumes importance in view of our increasing economic engagement with Finland which will assume Presidency of EU in the second half of the year,'' a spokesman of the External Affairs Ministry said.
On March 14, he will have a metro ride and later meet Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.
He leaves for home on March 15.
Bilateral trade with Finland was at Euro 407.8 million Euros (1:2 in favour of Finland). Presently, there are about 30 Finnish joint ventures and 70 other Finnish companies have appointed local agents in India.
Large manufacturers like Nokia, Kone Elevators, Wartsila Diesel India Ltd., Ahlstron (machinery for pulp and paper), Elcoteq (sophisticated machinery) etc. have already set-up their manufacturing facilities in different parts of India, though Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra remain their favourite destinations.
About Rs 300 crore have been invested by Finnish companies in India.
Finland has also evinced considerable interest in sectors like ship building, port development and road construction.
India's interests in cooperation with Finland extend to areas like energy, environment management and sustainable forestry.
The last visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Finland was in 1983 by Mrs Indira Gandhi while the last Finnish Prime Minister who visited India was Mr Kalevi Sorsa in 1984.
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