Statements, Speeches, Interviews

Speech by the Hon'ble President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil at the Business Meeting

22 April 2009 at 1030 hrs

Leaders of the Business Delegation from India,
Businesspersons from Spain and India,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am delighted to be here today at this joint meeting of the Spanish and Indian Industry. I appreciate greatly the initiative of the organizers of this extremely useful interaction. I especially thank Spain's major institutions, the Superior Council and the Confederation of Employers and Industries, and also the Indian side of the organizers, namely, the Confederation of Indian Industry, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and ASSOCHAM who have worked hard to realize this event.

It is a matter of satisfaction to see that trade between our two countries is growing. Last year our bilateral trade crossed the figure of US $ 4.5 billion. In the last two years it has grown over 50 per cent. Indian companies are present in Spain in the automobile, software, pharmaceutical, energy and infrastructure sectorts and are doing well. Many Spanish companies are present and active in India and thus aware of our growth story.

The Indian economy has witnessed an impressive growth of 9 percent in the last four years. Even today in the midst of the financial crisis, our economy is holding its ground well as compared to many others. Though our growth rate has been affected and fell to 7 percent in 2008, we expect to achieve a similar growth rate in 2009. Our objective remains to grow at etween 9 to 10 per cent on a sustainable basis so that we can make a major dent on poverty. To sustain this level of growth, India needs to further strengthen nfrastructure building. We have calculated that our needs in the next 5 years wou d e US$ 700 billion.

Your interaction with each other today would, I hope, set in motion, long-term collaboration based on the complementarities of our two economies. I would like to highlight six sectors where I see clear synergies between our two countries: infrastructure development, renewable energy, agriculture, R&D, tourism and cooperation in Latin America.

India is committed to creating world class infrastructure in highways, railways, seaports, airports, telecommunications, power generation, logistic parks, cargo handling, and warehouses and so on. Spanisl enterprises are well known for executing large-scale projects in infrastructure and e invite them to take a closer look at opportunities unfolding in India in infrastructure development.

Energy is a vital sector for us - over 90 thousand Megawatts of new generation capacity is required in the next seven years and a corresponding investment is required in trasmission and distribution networks. As we strive to meet our energy needs, we want to reduce our dependence on traditional sources of energy and increase the share of clean, new and renewable energy sources; in this endeavor, we are desirous of benefiting from Spain's expertise.

Agriculture is an area of priority for us. Last ar, our rural market grew at an impressive rate of 25 percent compared to the 7 to 10 percent growth rate of the urban consumer retail market. We want to stre gt en growth in agriculture and believe we can b6enefit from what Spain has achieved in the agricultural sector.

Given its very large pool of highly qualified nd trained manpower, India offers attractive possibilities in joint research and development. We can forge nutually beneficial partnerships in areas as divers as Information Technology, biotech, renewable energy and industrial design.

We wish to further develop our tourism industry. Spain is a world leader in this sector. The wide diversity of Spains's topography ranging from mountains to beaches has been depeloped well as tourist resorts. As a sub-contient, India too has vast and diverse landscapes and it has a rich cultural heritage. We would like to benefict from Spain's capacibilities, capacities and experiences in all segments of the tourism industry including construction and operation of hotels, cruises, maintenance and management of heritage sites and depelopment of other related infrastructure. This sector is open for 100 percent FDI through the automatic route and offers great potential.

In India, small and medium enterprises play a very important role in the economic and business activities of the country. They have added resilience to our economy an are the agents of growth. I understand that in Spain there are a significant numbers of SMEs in may sectors. Businessperson of the two countries in this segment should alse look at exploring investment opportunities and working together.

We recognize the major influence of Spain in the Latin American region and look forward to working together in exploring mutually beneficial business opportunities in that region. India is now increasingly focused on that region. My very first overseas visit as President was to Brazil, Chile and Mexico.

Our intensified engagement through mutual investments and projects would also have a favourable impact on our bilateral trade. Let us make it a joint endeavor to double our trade in five years.

Before I end, I want to compliment the Spanish business community who are steadfast in their endeavor to further relations with India. Some of them were in Mumbai in the hotels attacked by the terrorists in November last year. I was deeply touched to know that after coming back, they recommended that other delegations from Spain should continue with plans to visit India the very next month.

Ladies and Gentlemen, given the wide spectrum of areas in which our two countries can work together, I am confident that the memebers of my business delegation and their Spanis counterparts would have satisfactory discussions leading to productive relationships. Many centuries ago, Columbus had sailed for India. In can see the enterprising spirit of Columbus amongst the entrepreneurs and businesspersons present here. May you sail to India for trade, business ventures and investment. I wish you success in this endeavour.

Thank you.