Business Economy

Need to demystify India for our investors: Belgian Minister

Belgian Minister for Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services Philippe De Backer is all for efforts to help demystify India to investors from Belgium, more importantly in the context of the changing geopolitical situation.

“We have to look at India. Try to understand what’s going on, what the differences are… many of [the] Belgian companies don’t know. Demystification of India is an essential first step,” he said in an interaction on Friday.

Mr. Backer was in Hyderabad for the inauguration of Belgium’s honorary consulate and appointment of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories co-chairman and CEO G.V. Prasad as the honorary consul.

‘Open to and from India’

A gateway to Europe, Belgium was keen on supporting businesses wanting to come into India, and was open to business from India, he said, citing life sciences, information technology and shipping and logistics as the focus industries.

The need was to strengthen ties by encouraging firms to “take the risk and go to India, invest and maybe build partnership with Indian companies, [as also] allow services and products from India to come onto the Belgium market,” the Belgian Minister said. For that to happen, the right framework has to be created. “We should try to identify roadblocks… how can we ensure additional deepening of relationship”, he said, pointing out that this was to do with the European Commission.

Elections to Europe [Parliament] are to be held end of May. A new European Commission is set to be in place in November and India is also set to have a new government, he said.

“It will be time [then to see] how we can deepen the trade relationship. There is an ongoing discussion between European Commission and India when it comes to trade, but the talks have not really moved a lot.

“I think it is time to see opportunities in India. It’s time Indian companies also start showing interest in the rich and open European market,” Mr. Baker said. Such a move, he explained, was important in the geopolitical backdrop of the U.S. and China trying to change the manner in which trade was being conducted. “Both EU, Belgium in particular, and India, [ought] to really start looking at each other and see how they can strengthen their position in the geopolitical scene,” he said.

The focus industries identified by Belgium for developing ties with India come in the context of an emphasis on diversifying the trade basket beyond gems and jewellery that now dominate the nearly €13 billion bilateral trade. Diamonds account for nearly 80% of the €7.9 billion trade from Belgium to India. Indian exports to the European country stand at €4.8 billion.

Life sciences and IT are areas Hyderabad is strong in, offering considerable scope for partnership with Belgium, which is known for its R&D prowess and had set as one of its top priorities harnessing the potential of Artificial Intelligence. “We are going to invest up to €1 billion, both private and public money, in AI over the next couple of years in Belgium,” he said, adding there could be collaborative efforts between start-ups in Hyderabad and those in Belgium.

Source: thehindu.com

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