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Friday, May 16, 2003

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Luxembourg keen on trade ties

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LUXEMBOURG has asked India to increase trade relations with that country with a focus on manufacturing, services, including reinsurance, tourism, metals, machinery, transport equipment and information technology.

"We have transformed from an industry-dominated economy to services-centric economy. In 1970, industry contributed 44 per cent to our economy, while services chipped in six per cent and agriculture four per cent. Thirty years later, services occupied the driving seat with 78.2 per cent, while industry settled at 13.9 per cent and agriculture at 0.8 percentage point," Mr Paul Steinmetz, Ambassador of Luxembourg to India, said.

Speaking on `Business opportunities in Luxembourg' here, he said that his country's fundamentals were sound.

"With a growth rate of 5.4 per cent, we outscore France and Germany. At 2.4 per cent, we have lowest unemployment rate as against 8.6 per cent in France and 7.9 per cent in Germany," he said.

A tiny European Union member with a population of 4.45 lakhs and a geographical area of 2,586 sq km, Luxembourg scores well on several development indicators such as tele density. It has about 3.46 lakhs of telephone connections and 2.46 lakhs of mobile phones. In 2002, it has about 2.8 lakhs passenger cars. Interestingly, the country recorded 1,029 divorces as against 1,983 marriages in 2001.

"As far as competitiveness is concerned, we rank third after the US and Finland and with regard to growth competitiveness we stand third after the US and Singapore," he said.

However, he said his country's economy was hit by the recession leading to a lower GDP rate.

"Like a small family, we are careful as far as spending is concerned," he said.

Besides banking and financial services, the country made strides in the areas of reinsurance, multi-media and transportation.

Referring to tourism, Mr Steinmetz said that his country was rich in fabulous castles and spectacular hills, if not mountains. "Tourism too has a great potential," he told the gathering.

"We are keen to export select and high-end electronic products to India," he said and added that India, being a major IT player, had a major role to play in his country.

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