India means Business



Seminar India: Opportunities Unlimited
Address by Mr R.P. Agrawal, Deputy
Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Brussels
Brussels - 04-12-2003
Organised by Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO - Belgium)
In Association with The Embassy of India Brussels

I have great pleasure in being present at this august gathering this morning. GOPIO has greatly endeared itself to all of us in the very short time since inception of its Belgium chapter in Brussels. Thanks to the untiring efforts of all its office bearers in general and Shri Sunil Prasad in particular, it has emerged as a vehicle for the identity and aspirations of the Indians and persons of Indian origin working and living in Belgium. This is a commendable effort and I am happy to be associated with this very important maiden adventure of GOPIO. I am also particularly happy that today’s Chief Guest also has Indian roots.

The initiative taken by GOPIO in organizing this seminar on “India: opportunities unlimited” is indeed very timely as EU is enlarging itself by admitting ten additional member states in the year 2004. I feel India offers tremendous opportunities- both in the field of trade and investments. Today we have reached a bilateral trade level of over 25 billion euros with EU and about 6 billion euros with Belgium. The total FDI investment approvals for EU and Belgium have been about 16 billion $ and 1 billion $ respectively and actual inflows have been only about 30% and 10% respectively. I would like to concentrate on the opportunities for investments as well as the opportunities for mutual cooperation in the Services Sector. Promotion of foreign investments into India is an important element in our economic policy formulation. It is critical to the goal of achieving India’s further growth at the rate of 8% as has been planned in the 10th Five Year Plan of Government of India.

I am happy to state at this gathering that there are no serious political disagreements or fundamental differences between the EU and India, which can become an obstacle in exploitation of the opportunities by the Investors or traders of either side. India and EU, being the two largest democracies are both very important global players in a multi polar world. You are all kindly aware that India and EU had a very successful 4th Indo-EU Summit as well as the Indo-EU Business Summit where both the sides have reiterated their desire to further strengthen the economic and other relations. India, as you all know, is a multi cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, secular and pluralistic rule based democracy. These are the very shared values that are the driving force for the further deepening and widening of our relationship.

Between all the existing EU Member countries and India, we already have comprehensive Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements. We also have Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements with all the existing member countries except Luxembourg. We are willing to negotiate and enter into BIPA type of agreements with all the acceding member countries.

Since 1991, India has been continuously pursuing its economic reforms and has now embarked upon the 2nd generation of Reforms in the fields of Public Sector Divestment, Fiscal Deficit Control, Labour Reforms, Corporate Governance and Exchange Control – Convertibility. In a large democracy like India, it does take time to create a broad consensus and at times the process of liberalisation may also appear to be slow. I would like to submit today that India of today is very different from India of 10 years back and with the taking up of 2nd generation of Reforms, the pace of reforms will pick up further speed.

Today we are living in a globalised world, which is driven by and large by the market forces. Once there are no political or sovereign hurdles, what would an intelligent logical investor look for while considering investments? To my mind, the answers to the following questionnaire will certainly be the important guiding factors for investment decisions:
  • Does the investment destination have political stability and proper maintenance of law and order. How good is the availability and productivity of the skilled workforce?
  • How safe are the investments?
  • How easy it is to invest as well repatriate the returns to the parent company?
  • How independent and rule based is the judiciary and whether there is any Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement between the two countries?
  • What is the expected Rate of Return and the Pay Back Period?
    What is the Quality of basic infrastructure as well as how good is going to be the Quality of life for the executives?
  • Would it be easy to find suitable personnel to fit the job requirements?
    How is the availability of support services including the possibilities of getting some of the jobs sub contracted?
  • Would there be a full protection for the Intellectual Property Rights?
    Can the domestic market also absorb some of the production.
  • How easy it would be to travel to and fro both for men and materials?
  • Are there any tax incentives for investments and how good is the Government support/facilitation for investments?
  • What are the competing alternatives for investments and how does an investment in India compare with that?
  • Is there any possibility of the host country having the risk of being imposed with any sanctions by the international community or by any major country?
  • What is the confidence level and analysis of the World Bank and other renowned global evaluating agencies?
  • How liberal and non-oppressive is the taxation regime as well as the regime for import of equipment and raw materials?
  • Are the foreign investors generally welcomed in the host country?
  • What has been the earlier experience of those who had invested earlier?

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