Belgium sees plenty of promise in Indian economy
Brussels: Indian business may have
their reasons to despair about the state of the Indian economy, but the
view from the 'capital of Europe' is decidedly different. Princess Astrid
, the sister of present King Philippe, a strong supporter of India, is
leading a large 350-strong business delegation to India next month, as
Belgium remains upbeat about the potential and prospects of the Indian
economy, say Indian officials.
It will be the second such big
business delegation to India from Belgium - the headquarters of the
28-member European Commission and standing strategically at the crossroad
of Western Europe - in three years.
Philippe was scheduled to
lead this delegation as well before his father, King Albert II, who led
three business delegations since 1995, abdicated in July due to
ill-health. In 2008, the then king had gone on a 12-day visit to India and
there are very few other countries outside Europe that he cared to visit
during his decade-long reign.
"So far, 350 Belgian companies have
already registered for the visit and more might come, " said P S Raghavan,
special secretary, in India's external affairs ministry, to journalists
after the conclusion of delegation-level talks on the first working day of
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee's three-day visit to Belgium.
companies are seeking collaborations in the fields of infrastructure,
including shipping, logistics, aviation, IT and green technology and
chemicals, among other things.
That India is seen as "special" by
the Belgian government, which is going out of its way to woo India, was
seen in the way the royal couple, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, broke
protocol to come to the airport to receive Mukherjee when he arrived here
Tuesday evening. As the Indian president stepped down from his Air India
One, royalty was there on the tarmac to receive him - a very unusual
gesture, say locals.
Belgium has been singularly helpful in
"creating an exception for India" as it sought to enter into international
cooperation in the area of civil nuclear energy, noted Mukherjee
Wednesday, as he hoped "Belgium will continue its constructive approach
and will support us in our efforts to become a full member of four arms
Belgium has been one of the earliest
supporters of India's candidature into the UN Security Council as and when
it is expanded.
Collaboration, including transfer of technology,
has been further suggested in the area of civil nuclear cooperation in
which Belgium has been a major supporter of India.
areas of potential collaboration that came up during "extremely fruitful"
talks here, were cooperation in upgrading railway infrastructure. Three
stations - in Mumbai (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus), Nagpur and Dehradun -
will soon be taken up on a pilot basis , Indian Ambassador Dinkar Khullar
The president talked about collaboration in upgrading port
infrastructure as well, and particularly talked about Kolkata port, a
riverine port with sea access that has similarities with Antwerp port that
is often seen as a gateway to Europe. Already collaborations are there
between Antwerp port authorities and those of Mumbai and Chennai in the
areas of training and modernisation.
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