India, Belgium Look for Ways to Diversify Trade

India’s Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles, Anand Sharma, stressed that Belgium is an important trading partner for India and there are a growing number of investment opportunities between the two countries. He also emphasized the need to diversify the relationship from diamonds and into new areas.
Trade between these two countries is currently dominated by the gem and jewelry sector, which accounts for about 61 percent of the total, with diamonds accounting for a large portion.

Indo-Belgian trade in fiscal 2010-11 totaled $14.9 billion, up 52 percent from the previous year. Belgium is India`s second largest trading partner in the European Union.

Exports to Belgium in 2010-11 grew 67 percent to $6.29 billion. The top sectors for growth included gems and jewelry, primary and semi-finished iron and steel, petroleum, readymade cotton and transport equipment. India’s Imports from Belgium rose 43 percent to $8.6 billion in 2010-11 with the top sectors being pearls, precious and semi-precious stones, machinery, iron and steel, organic chemicals, artificial resins and plastic materials.

Sharma said that the most promising areas for diversification include communications, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, chemicals and automotive parts, energy, ports, dredging, construction, banking and finance, electronics and software, chemicals and fertilizers and renewable energy.

He expressed satisfaction with developments within the EU–India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) and said that both sides are committed to a balanced agreement by early 2012.

”This agreement will lead to an increase in opportunities for market access in both goods and services for both sides,” said Sharma during his meeting with Kris Peeters, who is the minister-president of Flanders, in New Delhi.

Regarding investment, India pointed out the opportunities from the infrastructure sector, such as highways, power plants, railways and airports. India too is an important investor in Flanders, in the northern part of Belgium that encompasses Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp. India has invested about EUR 1.2 billion and has over 50 Indian companies, with investments in greenfield, acquisitions and joint ventures.

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