Amid downturn, Spain seeks India boost; to bolster defence ties | SupportBiz

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Amid downturn, Spain seeks India boost; to bolster defence ties

 
Amid the festering Eurozone recession, Spain, a trillion dollar-plus economy hit by the downturn, Friday sought increased trade and investment with India and sought to give a strategic cast to bilateral ties by signing five pacts, including a key defence one.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held delegation-level talks with Spain's King Juan Carlos I, who is currently on a four-day visit to India.

After the talks, the two sides signed five pacts, including a protocol on amending an earlier convention on the avoidance of double taxation, a key pact that will spur collaboration between defence industries of the two countries and four other pacts in areas of sustainable transport and high speed railways.

With Spain's economy reeling from the eurozone downturn, the Spanish side sought to scale up trade and investment with India, an emerging economy which is still growing at a healthy clip of around 7 percent when the growth rates in the developed world have plummeted sharply.

The Indian side pitched for Spanish investments in sectors like infrastructure, transport and energy, areas in which Spain boasts of proven prowess, said official sources.

Spain, one of the bigger European economies affected by the sovereign debt crisis, has prioritized India as an important opportunity for Spanish businesses who are struggling for new markets outside the eurozone.

The king has brought in a large business delegation, comprising CEOs of leading Spanish companies, to underscore the India focus.

Speaking to a galaxy of Indian business leaders in Mumbai Thursday, Juan Carlos I had lauded India's rising global stature and pitched for greater trade and investment between the two countries.

"India is a great nation with growing influence in this increasingly globalised world," said the king, an Indophile with an abiding interest in Indian art and culture.

"We are carrying out far-reaching economic policy measures, and these have already begun to bear fruits," he said, while inviting Indian businesses to scale up investment in Spain.

Bucking the eurozone downturn, bilateral trade burgeoned to $5 billion in 2011, which represents a growth of almost 18 percent over 2010.

Spanish investment in India is over $1.3 billion. India's total investment in Spain is valued around Euro 605 million.

Seeking to give a strategic cast to bilateral ties, India and Spain signed a defence pact that entails, among other things, exchanging defence-related experience, information, encouraging visits of personnel, collaboration in defence industry and other similar areas of cooperation.

The pact was signed by Defence Minister A. K. Antony and his Spanish counterpart Pedro Morenes Eulate.

This is the first defence pact between India and Spain and signals possibilities of arms sales by Spanish companies to India. Spain was one of the four partner countries offering the Eurofighter combat aircraft to India for its tender for 126 fighter jets.

Many Spanish firms have shown an interest in selling high-tech weaponry to India. Spanish defence companies such as Indra are already engaged with Indian armed forces in areas of radar and communication.

India and Spain also signed four other pacts to impart a fresh momentum to their bilateral ties, including a memorandum of understanding on promoting efficient and eco-friendly transport systems.

Spain, home to some of the picturesque locales in Europe, also signed a pact with India in the area of co-production of films. A pact to promote cooperation in railway sector, including information exchange in the area of high speed railways, was also signed between the Indian Railways and Renfe-Operadora and ADIF of Spain.