Multi-faceted cooperation structure with Arab world soon: Tharoor

August 17th, 2009 - 11:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 17 (IANS) With ties with the Arab world being crucial not only for India’s energy security but also for its food security, efforts are on to have in place a structure of multi-faceted cooperation between the two sides, the government said Monday.
“India considers the Arab region very important in shaping our political, economic, trade, defence and security at both regional and global level,” Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said while releasing a publication, “Arab World 2009 - Paradise Promised”, here.

The publication, a manual on business and trade opportunities available in India and the Arab region, has been brought out by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) in cooperation with the League of Arab States.

“In keeping with our desire to strengthen our relations with the countries of the (Arab) region, we are trying to put in place a structure of multi-faceted cooperation covering all sectors,” Tharoor said.

The minister said the Arab region was crucial for India not only in terms of energy security but also in terms of food security.

“Arab countries are vital sources of oil and gas. More recently, Egypt, Sudan and the Maghreb have become essential to India’s energy security. Indian companies have secured concessions or have invested in the oil sector significantly in Sudan, Egypt and Libya,” he said.

“Less publicised perhaps is the enormous importance for India’s food security countries such as Jordan, Nigeria, Morocco, Tunisia as providers of rock phosphate and phosphoric acid and potash, all of which translate into fertiliser for our farmers.”

Stating that the Gulf region has emerged as an important trading partner for India, Tharoor also said that work was on to have a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

“We are negotiating with the Gulf Cooperation Council to conclude an India-GCC free trade agreement. This will complement our ongoing and rapidly expanding bilateral economic engagement with individual member countries of the GCC,” he said.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates form the GCC.

Apart from trade and economy, India and the Arab world are cooperating in various other sectors too.

“India has already shown its willingness to share with its Arab brethren our experience and expertise in institutional capacity building, governance, science and technology, healthcare and higher education, including the training of Arab officials, diplomats and soldiers,” Tharoor said.

Addressing the gathering, Chief Representative of League of Arab Nations Mission in New Delhi Ahmed S. Al-Wahisi said India was a growing world power with which the Arab world had common strategic interests.

“Our growing partnership with India is not only based on historic ties and values, but also now based on increasing convergence of strategic interests in Asia and beyond,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador of Morocco in India and Dean of the Arab Diplomatic Corps Larbi Moukhariq said trade between India and the Arab world, which stood at $7 billion in 2001, grew to $20 billion by 2005-06 and to $100 billion in 2009.

Assocham vice-president Dilip Modi said the industry forum was laying special emphasis on India-Arab trade ties.

Among others present were ambassadors and diplomats of various Arab countries in India.

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