Brussels, Oct : President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said India and Belgium should continue to strive to increase and diversify bilateral trade and investment relationship between the two countries.
Speaking at the delegation level talks with the Prime minister of Belgium Elio De Rupo today, President Mukherjee expressed happiness over the engagement of Indian nationals in diamond trade in Antwerp, who are contributing significantly to the Belgian economy, and added that the diamond sector is the largest component of our bilateral trade.
“There is potential for diversification into areas such as life sciences, green technology, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure development and information and communication technology. Belgium with its proven expertise in these fields can become an important partner,” he said.
He further raised concern over the economic situation in Europe and other parts of the world, and hoped that Indo-Belgian bilateral trade will regain momentum in 2013, and said that both the countries would be able to achieve the target of doubling the bilateral trade from 8.8 billion euros in 2008 in the next five years.
President Mukherjee also thanked Belgium for supporting India’s candidature to a permanent seat of an expanded United Nations Security Council.
He also acknowledged Belgium’s upfront support for creating an exception for India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to enable India to enter into international cooperation in the area of civilian nuclear energy.
“I hope that Belgium will continue its constructive approach and will support us in our efforts to become a full member of the four arms control regimes – NSG, MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group. A clear public stance by Belgium on this issue would be in line with our excellent cooperation,” he said.
He also said that there are immense possibilities for cooperation in certain areas of Science and Technology, in which Belgium has well-recognized expertise
President Mukherjee said that cooperation in education has to emerge as one of the important pillars of partnership between the two countries.
“We should explore the possibilities of increasing academic exchanges between Belgian universities and renowned universities of India. I am happy that some MoUs will be signed between India and Belgian Universities today,” he added.
He encouraged greater people-to-people contacts between the two countries, and said that it will facilitate business and cultural exchanges between likeminded countries like India and Belgium.
“India views European Union as one of its principal partners with whom we have developed an intensive and multifaceted relationship. We are having annual summits since 2000 and the relationship was elevated to the level of strategic partnership in 2004,” he said.
He also said that the two countries should progress by taking concrete actions which would bring direct benefits to the citizens of both India and Belgium.
“This is the only way we can widen the base of our partnership and impart it greater sustainability,” he added. (ANI)