Indian businesses to play important role in strengthening India-Central Asia trade relations – Dr S Jaishankar
New Delhi: Minister of External Affairs, Govt of India, Dr S Jaishankar, today said that within the framework of the India-Central Asia Dialogue, the governments have committed to a vibrant partnership and in realizing this, Indian industry should play a big role.
Speaking at ‘India-Central Asia Business Forum’, organized by FICCI, jointly with the Ministry of External Affairs coinciding with the launch of ‘India-Central Asia Business Council’ Dr Jaishankar said, “As the larger economy, I call upon Indian businesses to take greater interest in the Central Asian market,” and expressed hope that India’s economic growth in our extended neighbourhood would grow exponentially in the coming years.
Dr Jaishankar said that great potential exists in enhancing trade and economic engagement between India and Central Asia but lack of efficient overland connectivity is a major challenge. He said that India proposes to overcome this challenge through the Chabahar route, and the Union Budget also has allocated Rs 100 crore for Chabahar Port in FY 2020-21.
“India, Iran and Afghanistan believe that Chabahar will become the fulcrum of connectivity for Indian goods to reach Afghanistan and further north to Central Asian states and for the landlocked Central Asia to find access to ocean through this port,” Dr Jaishankar said.
He also emphasized on the need to examine the viability of establishing air corridors between India and the Central Asian states. “While flying time from Delhi for most of the Central Asian destinations is 2 hours, it may take 2 months for containers sent overland from India to reach these places. Availability of air corridors can boost trade in perishable goods, agricultural and food products. I would encourage FICCI to take lead in bringing together stakeholders to examine this,” said Dr Jaishankar.
Dr Jaishankar also highlighted tourism and higher education as sectors of tremendous potential. “Medical tourism to India from Central Asia has a great demand. In the field of education, a good beginning has been made with the opening of Indian private universities in Uzbekistan,” he said.
Dr Sangita Reddy, President, FICCI, said the India-Central Asia Business Council will constitute four Working Groups in areas of energy; Agro, Food Processing and textiles; Tourism and Pharmaceutical and Life-sciences.
“The council is being developed as an institutionalized platform for promoting trade and investment ties between India and the Five Central Asian countries namely Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. We understand a concrete beginning has been made and we – the Indian industry, are of the firm view that the initiative shall go a long way for our countries to redraw and weave ‘New Silk Route’ that shall bind India and would allow it to rediscover its long-standing cultural, economic and civilizational bond with strategically important Central Asian countries,” said Dr Reddy.