Patil lauds Indo-Spain trade tie progress, three agreements signed

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Madrid, April 22 (ANI): President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Wednesday expressed satisfaction over the growing trade relations between India and Spain and spoke about a wide spectrum of issues on which both the countries can benefit through mutual cooperation.

President Patil, on this occasion, addressed a joint business meet, comprising leaders of the business delegation from India and businesspersons from Spain and India.

President Patil in her address said: "Last year our bilateral trade crossed the figure of 4.5 billion dollars. In the last two years, it has grown over 50 per cent. Indian companies are present in Spain in the automobile, software, pharmaceutical, energy and infrastructure sectors and are doing well. Many Spanish companies are already present and active in India and thus aware of our growth story."

Admitting a temporary decline in national growth rate from of 9 per cent recorded in last four years to 7 per cent in the last year, Patil said that the India expects to achieve the 9 to 10 percent growth rate in 2009.

"The Indian economy has witnessed an impressive growth of 9 percent in the last four years. Even today in the midst of the financial crisis, our economy is holding its ground well as compared to many others. Though our growth rate has been affected and fell to 7 percent in 2008, we expect to achieve a similar growth rate in 2009. Our objective remains to grow at between 9 to 10 per cent on a sustainable basis so that we can make a major dent on poverty. To sustain this level of growth, India needs to further strengthen infrastructure building. We have calculated that our needs in the next 5 years would be 700 billion dollars," Patil said.

President Patil, on this occasion, highlighted six sectors- infrastructure development, renewable energy, agriculture, R and D, tourism and cooperation in Latin America-where there was clear synergy between the two nations.

"India is committed to creating world class infrastructure in highways, railways, seaports, airports, telecommunications, power generation, logistic parks, cargo handling, and warehouses and so on. Spanish enterprises are well-known for executing large-scale projects in infrastructure and we invite them to take a closer look at opportunities unfolding in India in infrastructure development," Patil said.

On the Energy sector, Patil said in India there is a requirement of 90,000 Megawatts of generation capacity for coming seven years and the country seeks to benefit from Spain's expertise.

"Energy is a vital sector for us - over 90,000 Megawatts of new generation capacity is required in the next seven years and a corresponding investment is required in transmission and distribution networks. As we strive to meet our energy needs, we want to reduce our dependence on traditional sources of energy and increase the share of clean, new and renewable energy sources; in this endeavor, we are desirous of benefiting from Spain's expertise," Patil said.

Appreciating Spain's accomplishment in agriculture sector, Patil said: "Agriculture is an area of priority for us. Last year, our rural market grew at an impressive rate of 25 percent compared to the 7 to 10 percent growth rate of the urban consumer retail market. We want to strengthen growth in agriculture and believe we can benefit from what Spain has achieved in the agricultural sector."

President Patil said considering it's a large pool of highly qualified and trained manpower, India offers attractive possibilities in joint research and development.

"We can forge mutually beneficial partnerships in areas as diverse as Information Technology, biotech, renewable energy and industrial design," Pail said.

"We wish to further develop our tourism industry. Spain is a world leader in this sector. The wide diversity of Spain's topography ranging from mountains to beaches has been developed well as tourist resorts. As a sub-continent, India too has vast and diverse landscapes and it has a rich cultural heritage."

"We would like to benefit from Spain's capabilities, capacities and experiences in all segments of the tourism industry including construction and operation of hotels, cruises, maintenance and management of heritage sites and development of other related infrastructure. This sector is open for 100 percent FDI through the automatic route and offers great potential," Patil said.

Patil also pointed the need to explore investment opportunities and working together in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by both the countries.

"In India, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a very important role in the economic and business activities of the country. They have added resilience to our economy and are the agents of growth. I understand that in Spain there are a significant number of SMEs in many sectors. Businesspersons of the two countries in this segment should also look at exploring investment opportunities and working together." Patil said that India today recognize the major influence of Spain in the Latin American region and look forward to working together in exploring mutually beneficial business opportunities in that region. "India is now increasingly focused on that region."

"Our intensified engagement through mutual investments and projects would also have a favourable impact on our bilateral trade. Let us make it a joint endeavor to double our trade in five years," said the President of India.

India and Spain on Wednesday signed three bilateral agreements in the field of agriculture, tourism and industry.

Ashwani kumar and Indian ambassador to Spain Ms. Sujata Mehta signed the three agreements, in the presence of the President of India Pratibha Patil and the President of Spain Josi Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. By Ravinder Singh Robin (ANI)

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