India, Qatar step up counter-terror cooperation, economic ties

Modi-Emir Qatar

DOHA: Imparting an added momentum to India’s ties with West Asia, India signed seven pacts with Qatar, including an important agreement to intensify counter-terror cooperation and decided to widen the canvas of economic engagement between the energy-rich Gulf nation.

The pacts were signed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. This is the second prime ministerial visit from India to Qatar in eight years.

In an important development, the two countries signed an important agreement between Finance Intelligence Unit –India (FIU-IND) and the Qatar Financial Information Unit (QFIU), which is aimed at targeting financial flows of terrorists. India had signed similar agreements during Mr Modi’s visits to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which underlines the growing importance of counter-terror cooperation in India’s multi-faceted ties with the Gulf nation.

Upscaling economic ties topped PM Modi’s agenda in Doha, which was reflected in the signing of a pact for investment in National Investment and Infrastructure Fund between India and Qatar. The two countries also signed pacts in areas of skill development, health and tourism.

Mr Modi began his visit to Qatar with a meeting with business leaders. “Business First. For first engagement of the day, PM attends roundtable meeting with Qatari Business Leaders,” said Vikas Swarup, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson.  “Qatar’s Minister of Trade and Economy welcomes PM @narendramodi, seeks more intensive eco engagement with India,” Mr Swarup added.

Reaching the Qatari capital Doha from Afghanistan on the night of June 4, Mr Modi was received by Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.

Mr Modi identified agro processing, railways and solar energy as very promising areas for Qatari investment. “Our projects for Smart Cities, metros, urban waste management etc are geared towards upgrading quality of life of people,” Mr Modi said. “India’s 800 million youth are its biggest strength. Infrastructure expansion and upgradation and manufacturing are my other priorities,” he added.

India sources nearly 80 percent of its global import of LNG from Qatar. Qatar has slashed the price of gas it supplies to India by almost half by removing a floor and cap in the pricing formula.  However, it has introduced a small fixed component to protect its interest. As per the new  formulation which came into effect from January 1 it has led to a reduced cost of LNG from Qatar to about USD 6.5-6.6 per million British thermal unit (mmBtu) from the last billed USD 12.60 per mmBtu. This will make gas imports cheaper for India.


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