India is committed to deepen and elevate its relations with Iraq : Anand Sharma
The Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles Shri Anand Sharma said that India is committed to deepen and elevate its relations with Iraq. He proposed during his meeting with the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Dr Rowsch N Shaways, here , that “the Joint Business Council between India-Iraq needs to be activated so that the interaction between businessmen of both the countries could be maintained regularly. The apex Chambers of Commerce should interact on regular basis for arranging Joint Business Meetings to boost the bilateral trade.” The visiting Deputy Prime Minister conveyed that India is the biggest importer of Iraqi oil and this is a firm foundation on which we can further build our economic engagement. He emphasized that there is a need to diversify the trade basket and proposed food, Construction, minerals, IT, pharmaceuticals, energy and Automobile as part of diversifying the existing trade basket. He invited Indian firms to Iraq either in JV or independently. “We are open in all formats and will welcome Indian participation in our reconstruction programme” the Deputy Prime Minister said. Shri Sharma emphasized that India wants to partner with Iraq in all these areas. “We will be happy to see Indian Companies being encouraged in Iraq’s reconstruction programme and we will also point our companies in that direction” said the Indian Minister. He mentioned that for capacity building of Iraq India is annually providing 120 slots under the Indian Technical Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme to train Government of Iraq officials. Similarly, India is offering 50 scholarships to Iraqi students for higher studies in India under the ‘ Cultural Exchange Programme Scholarship Scheme’ (CEP) and the ‘General Cultural Scholarships Scheme (GCSS) organizes by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. The Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOC) has been providing training in India to the Iraqi officials on various subjects related to downstream oil sector. Indian Ambassador in Iraq informed the meeting that every day about 160 medical visas are issued to Iraqi citizens. The people to people contacts are developing fast as are also the academic linkages between the two countries particularly in the medical and engineering fields. India has become the most favourite destination for Iraqis for seeking quality medical treatment. More than 28000 Iraqis visited India in 2010 for medical treatment, education and tourism. Both side agreed to revamp Indian presence in Baghdad International Trade fair. The Trade Minister of Iraq Dr Kheer Allah Hassan Babkr who was attending the meeting said there should be no need of third party in India Iraq trade and Indian company should be able to deal directly with the players in Iraq. He singled out Government firms in the fields of Construction and Auto mobile which can deal with Indian firms directly. Iraq is an important trading partner of India in West Asia. Bilateral trade has registered a 100% increase over the last five years. The total trade has increased from US$ 5.7 billion in 2006-07 to US$ 9.7 billion in 2010-11. The exports from India have gone up from US$ 203.99 million in 2006-07 to US$ 738.65 million in 2010-11. Similarly, imports from Iraq have gone up from US$ 5.5 billion in 2006-07 to US$ 9.0 billion 2010-11. The top five exportable items from India to Iraq are Manufactures of Metals , Electronic Goods, Rice-Basmati, Meat & Preparations ,Machinery & Instruments etc. Similarly top five importable items from Iraq to India are Petroleum Crude & Products(99.88 %) Fruits & Nuts Excl Cashew Nuts, Sulphr & Unrosted Iron Pyrts, Wool Raw, Organic Chemicals etc. Both the leaders agreed that the bilateral trade does not reflect the full potential and can be further exploited to mutual advantage of both the countries.