Modi woos Belgian investors to expand ties with India beyond diamonds


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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his maiden visit to Brussels stressed on the potential to enhance business cooperation between both countries. With an emphasis on wooing investments into India, Mr Modi said that India’s economic growth combined with Belgium’s capacity has the potential to produce promising opportunities for businesses on both sides. He also expressed solidarity with Belgium in the backdrop of the terror attacks in Brussels on March 22, which killed around 35 people and injured hundreds.

“Diamonds are, of course, an old link between us. It provides employment to many in India. IT is another sector of promise,” Mr Modi told the Belgian CEOs over a luncheon meeting.

Highlighting the strength of India’s macroeconomic fundamentals, Mr Modi said: “India is one of the brightest economic opportunities in the world today. Our macroeconomic fundamentals are robust , and at 7% plus, we are one of the fastest growing economies of the world. I believe that a combination of Belgian capacities and India’s economic growth can produce promising opportunities for businesses on both sides.”

Showcasing the India story, Mr Modi invited potential investors to invest in some of the flagship programmes launched by his government. He asked them to pro-actively associate with India’s ambitious development projects including Digital India, Start Up India and Skill India. Emphasising on the opportunities available for Belgian businesses in India, Mr Modi said: “Belgian businesses can make their global supply chains more cost effective by manufacturing in India. India’s goal to modernize infrastructure, especially railways and ports, and building of 100 plus smart cities also presents a unique investment opportunity for the Belgian companies. These partnerships can help us reach new heights in our trade and commercial partnership. I have invited Prime Minister Michel to visit India with Belgian businesses to see first-hand the reality of India’s economic and political promise.”

India-Belgium potential cooperation

Belgium is India’s second largest trading partner in the European Union (EU) after Germany. The bilateral trade between both countries is around $16 billion as of 2014-15. India is Belgium’s second largest export destination after the US outside of the EU. Belgium is also home to around a 20,000 strong Indian diaspora.

Energy cooperation

In an effort to tackle climate change, India and Belgium have agreed to enhance cooperation in renewable energy, harnessing waste for energy, small wind turbines and zero emission buildings.

Mr Modi and his Beglian counterpart Charles Michel activated, India’s largest optical telescope in Nainital from Brussels. Speaking about the potential of the cooperation between the two countries, Mr Modi said: “This product of Indo-Belgian collaboration is an inspiring example of what our partnership can achieve. The work is also afoot on other agreements in the areas of Information and Communication Technology, audio-visual production Tourism biotechnology and shipping and ports.”

India has also offered to resume discussions on a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in the wake of the recent terror attacks in both countries.The two countries agreed to expedite the “Negotiations on Extradition Treaty and a Treaty on Exchange of Sentenced Prisoners.”