India, Belgium boost ties, call for new financial order

November 5th, 2008 - 12:44 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) India and Belgium Tuesday called for evolving a new global financial architecture even as they sought to add more muscle to their burgeoning economic ties. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks with Belgium’s King Albert II, who is currently on a 10-day visit to India, on a wide range of bilateral and global issues, including the intensification of economic ties and the India-EU relationship.

The global financial crisis figured prominently in discussions between the two leaders, official sources said.

The Belgian monarch called for India’s active participation in the ongoing process to evolve a new global mechanism to deal with global financial crises, the sources added.

The Belgian monarch also met ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chair Sonia Gandhi and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

President Pratibha Patil hosted a banquet for the visiting king and his delegation, including Queen Paola.

Earlier in the day, the Belgian monarch addressed India’s top business leaders and entrepreneurs and made a pitch for attracting Indian investment in his country.

“A change is needed in the global financial system, with the International Monetary Fund reinventing itself in light of the current financial turmoil that is rocking the world markets,” said Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath in his address to a seminar on ‘India and Belgium - Partners in a Globalised World’.

The function was jointly organised by apex industrial bodies of India.

Kamal Nath stressed that the reinvention of the global financial system was required as the world was now more interconnected than ever. Though globalisation has not resulted in any interdependence, it has certainly interconnected different economies and as a result, a slowdown in the developed world will certainly impact the developing economies, he said.

While India may not feel the full impact of the meltdown, it will be indirectly affected by it, he added.

Agreeing with Kamal Nath, Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs Karel De Gucht said the financial meltdown was a “clear signal” for a new financial architecture. He called for greater consensus among countries to bring about this change.

Bilateral trade between the two countries during 2007-08 was $8.6 billion, representing a growth of 13 percent over 2006-07.

“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”, Kamal Nath said.

The Belgian monarch, officially called King of the Belgians, will also visit Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Mammalapuram during his stay in India.

Belgium, a founding member of the 27-member European Union, hosts the EU headquarters and many other international organizations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is also a hub of global diamond trade in which persons of Indian origin play a prominent role.

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