Recession-hit India to tap Kuwait for investment

April 2nd, 2009 - 8:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) With the global economic recession deepening, India will tap Kuwait for investment funds in the country’s burgeoning infrastructure sector and sign two pacts when Vice President Hamid Ansari goes to the oil-rich Gulf emirate on a three-day visit Monday.
Ansari will call on Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and discuss with him an entire gamut of bilateral relationship and regional and global issues, including security, energy, terrorism and cooperation in the field of science and technology.

The vice president will also meet ministers of defence, foreign affairs, finance and oil in that country.

Issues relating to the welfare of Indians in Kuwait will also figure in the discussions.

Ansari’s trip returns the visit by the amir to India nearly three years ago. This will be the first high-level visit from the Indian side to Kuwait, home to 580,000 persons of Indian origin, in nearly three decades.

Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation G.K. Vasan and senior officials of the external affairs and petroleum ministry will be accompanying Ansari on this important trip to the Gulf region, home to over 4.5 million Indian diaspora. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Oman and Qatar last year.

The focus of the visit will be on enhancing economic and energy ties between India and Kuwait, N. Ravi, secretary (East) in the external affairs ministry, told reporters here Thursday.

“In the current scenario, Kuwait has a lot of capital. We seek to encourage Kuwaiti investment in infrastructure sector in India,” Ravi said when asked whether a recession-hit India will seek investment funds from Kuwait during the vice president’s visit.

Ansari will make a pitch for accelerated Kuwaiti investment into India in his address to the Kuwaiti Chambers of Commerce and Industry next week.

India can absorb $500 billion investment in the infrastructure sector over the years, Ravi said.

The two countries will sign pacts in the area of science and technology cooperation and education exchange for the year 2009-2011, Ravi said.

Kuwait, a member of the influential Gulf Cooperation Council, has nearly 10 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. A Kuwait bank has predicted that despite a sharp plunge in oil prices in the last few months, Kuwait is set to record over $4 billion surplus. But this estimate is based on high oil prices for most of the last year.

Recession has hit parts of Kuwait’s economy as well with the government mulling a $5 billion stimulus package and putting off a $15 billion refinery project.

According to official estimates, Kuwait has a total budget surplus of $113 billion over the past nine fiscal years.

Economic ties between India and Kuwait are steadily growing with bilateral trade estimated to be around $8.4 billion. Kuwait accounts for 12 percent of India’s crude oil imports.

IT, biotechnology and SMEs are emerging areas of cooperation between the two countries.

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