Sunday, 28 February 2010

Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry: India all set to achieve growth rate of 9 per cent per annum, says Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh

By Syed Akbar
Riyadh, Feb 28: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said India, despite global economic slowdown, was poised to achieve a growth rate of over seven per cent in the current financial year.
Addressing the who’s who of the Saudi industry and a business delegation from India at the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry here, Dr Manmohan Singh said he expected to get back to the growth level of about 9 per cent per annum within two years.
Inviting Saudi businessmen and industrialists to invest in India, the prime minister said the Indian domestic saving rates are high, and can support investment rates of as high as 38 per cent of gross domestic product. “India is an economy with a huge market, and a young and expanding work force. We have a vibrant and innovative private sector,” he said.
Incidentally, it was Dr Manmohan Singh, who had played a key role in the evolution of the India-Saudi Arabia economic partnership way back in 1994 when he was the Union Finance Minister.
Emphasing the need for further exploring trade and business activities between India and Saudi Arabia, the prime minister said both countries had in place a sound institutional mechanism to facilitate trade and investment, including a double taxation avoidance agreement and bilateral investment protection agreement.
“I would specifically refer to the construction, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, health, agriculture, energy, telecommunications, tourism and other service sectors. We deeply value Saudi Arabia’s role as a reliable partner in meeting our energy needs. We believe that conditions are ripe for moving beyond a traditional buyer-seller relationship to a
comprehensive energy partnership,” he said.
Indian companies, he said are well equipped to participate in upstream and downstream oil and gas sector projects in Saudi Arabia. There should be new partnerships in the area of new and renewable energy through sharing of clean technologies and joint collaborations.
Indian investments into Saudi Arabia have risen considerably and today stand at more than 2 billion US dollars covering over 500 joint ventures. Several major Indian companies have already established their presence in the kingdom.
The prime minister said both the countries should also look at new areas of cooperation. Education and skill development are of primary importance to both our countries. India has a proven track record in the field of knowledge-based industries, which have great potential for improving the skill set of the work force.
Calling for greater exchanges among the chambers, industry associations and business houses of both sides, Dr Manmohan Singh said more frequent participation in trade fairs and exhibitions will create greater awareness of each others’ capabilities.
“The Gulf countries are our natural partners in every sense of the term. Such interactions will bring vitality and dynamism in the cooperation between our two economies. India sees Saudi Arabia as a strategic partner for promoting peace, stability and economic development. Such a partnership will bring benefits not only to our two countries but to the region we both belong to, and to the world at large,” he said, amidst a standing ovation.

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