India, Qatar seek investments from each other (Roundup)

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New Delhi, Dec 3 (IANS) India and Qatar on Saturday reviewed bilateral relations with both sides seeking investments from each other across multiple sectors besides signing agreements, including on visas and cyber security.

During delegation-level talks here led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his visiting Qatari counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the two sides reviewed bilateral relations in depth, in particular on the follow-up of the important decisions taken during Modi’s visit to Qatar in June this year.

Sources here said the two leaders discussed cooperation in various sectors and acknowledged that the current level of trade and investment was much below potential.

“Prime Minister Modi highlighted the tremendous opportunities available for Qatari investment in India’s infrastructure and energy sectors,” a source said.

“He outlined the various measures taken by his government to open up the Indian economy and welcome FDI.”

Modi and Al Thani also identified civil aviation as a priority sector for enhancing cooperation.

According to the sources, Modi mentioned that India imported eight million tonnes of urea per year and said that a long term arrangement with Qatar for the supply of urea would be welcome.

India could also meet Qatari needs in the area of food security, he said.

On his part, the Qatari Prime Minister invited India’s participation in infrastructure and investment opportunities coming up ahead of the FIFA World Cup in that Gulf nation in 2022.

He also welcomed Indian investment in the port sector of Qatar.

“On energy cooperation, Prime Minister Modi said that we should go beyond the buyer-seller relationship to include joint ventures, joint research and development and joint exploration,” the source said.

Qatar is the largest supplier of LNG to India, accounting for 66 percent of the total imports in 2015-16.

Modi, it is learnt, said that Indian companies were ready to invest in both upstream and downstream projects in Qatar in the hydrocarbon sector.

The two leaders discussed enhancing cooperation in defence and security, in cyber security in particular, and agreed on joint action to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.

The security situation in Iraq, Syria and Yemen also came up for discussion.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, both sides agreed to increase the level of participation in infrastructure development projects on either side and undertook to exchange information on available investment opportunities in a regular and timely manner.

“It was agreed to expedite steps to put in place the necessary framework so that economic actors on both sides can take full advantage of the opportunities available, particularly in the area of infrastructure, special economic zones, civil aviation, energy, petrochemicals, health and pharmaceuticals, information technology, education, tourism and agriculture,” the statement said.

“The two leaders also emphasised the need to take practical steps to build on the framework provided by the agreement on defence cooperation signed in November 2008 by enhancing cooperation in the fields of specialised training, exchange of information and joint production of defence equipment.”

Three agreements were signed, including an agreement for exemption of visa requirement for holders of diplomatic, special and official passports, and memorandums of agreement (MoUs) on technical cooperation in cyber space and combating cyber crime; and between the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of Qatar and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in addition to a letter of intent for e-visas for tourists and businessmen. Separately, an MoU between Qatar Ports Management Company and Indian Ports Global Private Limited was concluded.

Later in the day, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, called on Al Thani .

“The two sides resolved to work closely to combat terrorism and radicalisation and noted the importance of consolidating the values of tolerance and preventing the spread of sectarianism,” the ministry statement said.

“They discussed cooperation on counter-terrorism, intelligence sharing and countering terror-financing and money laundering, apart from other transnational crimes.”

The visiting dignitary also called on President Pranab Mukherjee.

Al Thani arrived here on Friday accompanied by the Ministers of Finance, Transport and Communication, and Municipality and Environment, apart from the CEOs of Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Qatar Airways as also Deputy CEO of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and several key captains of industry.

This was the third exchange of high-level visits between India and the Gulf nation in less than two years.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani visited India in March 2015 which was followed by the visit of Modi to the Gulf nation in June 2016.

–IANS

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