April 15, 2014

India as important as China economically: Czech Amb

Filed under: Uncategorized — Journalised @ 4:16 AM
New Delhi, Apr 14 (UNI) Even after the slowdown of its economy, India remains as important a destination for Czech business as China, Czech Republic’s Ambassador to India Miloslav Stasek has stressed, adding that his country has ‘prioritised’ India much before the crisis.
   Speaking to UNI after the recently concluded India-Central Europe Business Forum (ICEBF) in which Czech Republic was the focus country, the Ambassador said Czech companies are increasingly looking towards India to spread their wings.
   The recession in many Western economies as well in Czech Republic itself has encouraged its companies to look for opportunities out of Europe as well as invest in R&D. “If we are not competitive, we will be lost,” he added.
   “Asia is huge and lots of opportunities exist and companies from other regions are also here, so the Indian market is very competitive,” the Ambassador said.
   He said the recently-concluded ICEBF, organised by FICCI in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs, provided a unique platform to Central European countries to interact with Indian business leaders. He expressed his country’s readiness to host a similar event and make it a perennial affair as it provides a platform for future cooperation with India.
   India-Czech bilateral trade currently stands close to two billion dollars per year. The Ambassador said that since there is lot of liquidity in Indian companies, they are looking at the Czech Republic as an investment destination. The Indian government currently provides subsidy to the tune of two per cent to Indian companies who invest in the Czech Republic, which means that anything that Indian companies invest in the Czech Republic, they are reimbursed two per cent of that amount by the Indian government.
   Apart from exporting traditional goods such as spices, textiles and rubber, several Indian pharma and IT companies have set up shop in the Central European country, that split from Slovakia in 1993, as it provides them a gateway to Europe.
   Mr Stasek stressed that there are ample areas in which Indian companies can invest in his country including areas such as automotives, heavy industry, engineering technology as well as glass.
   “Automotive industry is the engine of our growth and we export as well as import automotive part,” he said, adding that a lot of Indian companies are already exporting automotive parts to the Czech Republic.
   Terming China a relatively “difficult market” compared to India due to “language barriers”, he said the former Czechoslovakia is already an established name here because of its involvement in India’s economy in the 1970’s. “Even the auto wallahs know about Czechoslovakia,” the envoy remarked in a lighter vein.
   Mr Stasek expressed hope that any government that comes to power after the general election will prioritise the economy. “For any government in India the priority would be to provide employment and good environment to attract investment,” he said.
   When his attention was drawn to the absence of direct air links between the two countries at a time when the bilateral relations are flourishing, he said his government is exploring ways to get the national carrier Air-India to provide a direct service to Prague.  “We are in negotiations to bring Air-India to the CzechRepublic. We already have a civil aviation agreement with India. We will be pleased to have an Indian carrier cater on the India-Czech Republic route,” Mr Stasek said.
   He expressed hope that the void will be soon be filled.
Originally published here

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