Shri Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, has stated that India and Belgium are keen on strengthening the bilateral relationship by diversifying and boosting trade between the two countries. While addressing the Luncheon Session on "India and Belgium Partners in a Globalised World" with His Majesty Albert II, King of the Belgians, here today, the Minister said that the bilateral trade between the two countries during 2007-08 was US $ 8.6 billion representing a growth of 13% over the 2006-07 trade which stood at US $ 7.6 billion. The Session was attended by Mr. Karel De Gucht, Belgium Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, senior officials from the both the countries and representatives of business delegation from India and Belgium.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Kamal Nath said that the economic wellbeing of countries is intrinsically linked to the health of the global economy and added that the importance of strengthening partnership is well recognized and both the countries have been working constantly towards this. He further said that Trade in Services is another sector that has the potential to create mutually beneficial opportunities and Belgium, with changing demographics would increasingly need the services of professionals. "India can provide such skills and expertise, especially in the fields of health, IT and engineering. A facilitative visa regime will be helpful in boosting Indo-Belgian trade in services", he added.
As regards FDI inflows from Belgium into India, Belgium ranks 23rd and inflows during 1991 to December 2007 were US $ 200 million. The investments have been mainly in the areas of energy, infrastructure, software, biotechnology, telecommunications, auto parts, drugs & pharmaceuticals, shipping and logistics etc.
During the bilateral meeting with his counterpart, Shri Nath informed that India and Belgium share a long history of business relationship and Belgium is an important trading partner for India and is in top 5 trading partners in the European Union. Both sides felt that they should work towards facilitating business to business contacts, focusing on SMEs and to create an enabling business environment. They also agreed for a regular interaction between the two countries for providing useful opportunity to discuss means of widening the bilateral economic and commercial engagement.
Shri Kamal Nath mentioned about the EC proposal on increasing the CVD on cotton type bed linen by expanding the scope of the exercise by including other schemes also. He informed the Belgian Minister that India is concerned about this move and Belgian intervention in the matter with the EC to resolve the same.
India’s major items of exports to Belgium are: natural pearls, iron & steel, organic chemicals, apparels, marine products, tobacco and plastics. India’s major items of imports from Belgium: iron & steel, nuclear reactors, plastic article, electronic machinery, optical and surgical instruments.
As regards the multilateral trade, Shri Kamal Nath said that India continues to believe in strengthening the multilateral trade rules of the WTO. India looks forward to an early conclusion of the round. India has also been engaging constructively and actively with other member countries of the WTO towards this end. India is ready to show the necessary flexibility to achieve such an outcome but the onus for movement lies largely with the developed countries, he added.