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Spain looks to expand ties with India

With the eurozone crisis threatening the continent's economy and putting its own in a downswing, Spain is looking at India for some support and solutions. This was conveyed by Spanish Basque Country chief minister Francisco Javier Lopez Alvarez.

Alvarez delivered the keynote address at the inaugural ceremony of the two-day Sixth India-Spain Tribune Dialogue that began at Sapru House, New Delhi.

"The centuries of Europe being the world leaders in economic activity is over. India is playing that role of a leader in world economic affairs now. It is not a futuristic idea. It is reality now," Alvarez said at the event, described as a civil society interaction hosted by Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and Madrid-based Casa Asia here.

"Europe is now at a crossroads. Europe is facing a crisis now," he said referring to the Eurozone crisis that is threatening to cripple the European economy due to growing government debts in some key European Union nations.

With over five million unemployed, Spain has the highest unemployment rate of nearly 23 percent in the 17-nation eurozone and is one of the economic laggards of Europe that is battling a sliding economy.

Alvarez is leading a large delegation of diplomats, parliamentarians, entrepreneurs, academics, journalists and other social agents for the two-day dialogue. Noting that Spain was the world leaders in metallurgy, automobiles and energy sectors, Alvarez said it was looking at expanding its ties with India and taking back information technology, communications, pharmaceuticals and health care innovations from India.

External Affairs ministry Joint Secretary (West) Ruchi Ghanashyam told the meeting that trade between Indian and Spain had seen a healthy 16 percent rise in 2011 compared with figures in 2010. India and Spain have a robust over USD5 billion bilateral trade.

"This despite the global economic crisis and the eurozone crisis that is hugely felt by the whole world. This has now strengthened my belief that it is only the people and entrepreneurs of the world, who will get us out of the troubles," she added.

Ghanashyam noted that there were several opportunities for Indian firms in Spain in the fields of information technology and generic medicines. Tourism held opportunities for both countries.

Welcoming the delegation from Spain, ICWA deputy director general Sarvajit Chakravarti said the continuing global financial crisis, particularly in the eurozone, was a major challenge for the entire world and a number of solutions have been offered to resume the global growth path.

"Both Spain and India will need to continue to address these concerns and find ways of cooperating in mitigating their effects upon our evolving economies," he said.

Chakravarti also listed terrorism, insurgency, energy and renewable energy, trade and investment, capacity building as areas for furthering the already strong bilateral relations between Spain and India.