India woos Qatar for investment in infrastructure

November 10th, 2008 - 2:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Doha, Nov 10 (IANS) India is looking at investment opportunities in Qatar’s financial centres and special economic zones (SEZs) even as it opens up its infrastructure sector for investment from this gas-rich Gulf nation.”In this period of global turmoil, I feel that the complementarities between our two economies provide an opportunity for counter-cyclical strategies for growth in both the countries,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in an interview to the Qatar Tribune newspaper published Monday.

“We should exploit opportunities for investment in Qatari financial centres and special economic zones, including in the information technology and communications sectors. There is also scope for Qatar to invest in the infrastructure (sector) in India,” he said.

Manmohan Singh arrived in Qatar Sunday on the second and final leg of his two-nation tour in the Gulf region.

He said the sectors he mentioned would provide the framework for a new thrust to an intensified economic and commercial bilateral relationship.

In Oman, the first leg of his ongoing tour, Manmohan Singh had said there was scope for investment of over $500 billion in India’s infrastructure sector.

As for the global financial crisis, he said India and emerging economies would have a key role to play.

“I feel that emerging economies like India, with a strong and well functioning financial system, may hold the key to any global recovery process,” the prime minister said.

“A strategic partnership between Indian and Qatari economies assumes great importance during the global financial crisis.”

Qatar is among those Gulf nations to take effective remedial measures to counter the financial crisis and insulate its banking sector.

Its sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), had bought up to 20 percent in its national banks to ensure continued liquidity in the face of the crisis.

Qatar’s ruler had gone on record saying that the consequences of the global crisis in this gas-rich state would be less than on many of the other developing countries, because the banks and monetary institutions here enjoyed a high monetary cover.

Coming to energy ties between the nations, the prime minister said there was great scope for harnessing the complementarities that exist between the two countries.

“Qatar is a valued and reliable supplier of a large part of our energy imports from the Gulf region,” he said.

According to an agreement signed between the two sides, Qatar has been supplying India with 7.5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in two phases annually since 2004.

Stating that Indian oil and gas companies have developed into top global players with high technical capability, Manmohan Singh said: “I feel there is great scope to harness the complementarities that exist in the sector between the two countries and to transform our present energy relationship into a dynamic partnership.”

India and Qatar are also exploring ways to develop a robust framework for cooperation in developing human resource.

Manmohan Singh said cooperation in the education sector had first come up for discussion during the visit of Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, wife of Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, to India in 2006.

“Right now, we are exploring ways to develop a robust and comprehensive framework for cooperation in the field of human resource development,” he stated.

“We have decided to set up a joint committee to discuss this mater in greater detail. I will be proposing that we expedite the setting up of this committee.”

Qatar is actively working to diversify its economy in bid to reduce its dependence on oil and gas revenues. The Qatar Foundation has been set up to with the mandate to develop a knowledge-based economy for this Gulf state.

Currently, 420,000 Indians comprise the largest expatriate community in this country.

“Both the governments work closely to ensure the safety and welfare of the Indian community working here,” Manmohan Singh said.

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