Czech Republic for ties with India on new footing

G. Srinivasan New Delhi | Updated on May 09, 2011

Bilateral trade: The Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Mr Virbhadra Singh, and the President of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Mr Milan Stech, at a meeting in the Capital on Monday. — Photo: Ramesh Sharma

The Czech Republic is looking to forge economic, commercial and political relations on a new footing with India as both the countries have been in the midst of reforms for over two decades after opening up their economies to foreign investment and technology.

Disclosing this to Business Line, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to India, Mr Miloslav Stasek, said the ongoing visit of the President of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Mr Milan Stech, from May 8 to 13 here is “a reciprocal visit” following the visit of India's Vice-President, Dr Mohammad Hamid Ansari, last June to Prague. The visit by the counterpart of the Czech Upper House to India now reflects “the confirmation of the continuity of dialogue at the highest levels”, the envoy said.

Stating that Mr Stech has brought with him a business delegation comprising leading Czech companies and honchos in the field of automotive, glass, porcelain, lighting and jewellery design and fashion, Mr Stasek said that on Tuesday the Embassy is organising “Czech Design Gala Evening”. The Czech envoy said that his country is keen on “introducing, establishing and strengthening the position of the famous Czech design trade brands in the Indian market and promote the Czech Republic as a destination for unique glass, jewellery or porcelain products”.

Recalling how India-Czech commercial cooperation boomed half a century ago when 100 industrial projects were built in India with participation of Czech firms in the 1960s, he said these include HEC Ranchi, BHEL Hyderabad, HMT Pinjore and Ennore Power plant. He said there were some interruptions in the past as the Czech government was focussing on joining the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and “we forgot a little our traditional allies” such as India. In the meantime, many companies and countries filled up the “vacuum left by the Czech companies and that is why we are now trying to bring something new and innovative such as the best Czech designers in India to present them and find out new partners here for them”. He said as the our mutual trade is growing at 30-40 per cent a year “we are opening fresh opportunities for Czech companies to do new business in India, as India is growing at nine per cent a year to participate and benefit in the process as well”.

He said the two-way trade, currently running at $1.3 billion, would be doubled in the next two years, even as the current balance of trade is in favour of the Czech, albeit not a big trade deficit for India. He said that Asia remains “the priority with India and China as being the two big markets with Indian markets bigger than China”. While the Czech's offers include automotives and components, engineering technology, heavy machinery and food stuff, India's exports to Czech include textiles and spices. He said both countries could cooperate in areas in heavy industries, chemicals and nuclear energy, over and above the traditional ones. Though the Czech Republic economy is export-oriented with a population of 10.2 million and 80 per cent of mutual trade towards Europe, India and the West Asian countries had historic ties with the Czech and we are keen on “rehabilitation of the relationship”, he added.

He said the business delegation would go to Agra and Ferozpur to explore ties with glassware and jewellery manufacturers, besides Mumbai to liaise with the film industry as Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, provides ideal locale for Indian film industry, with its beautiful ambience.

Published on May 09, 2011

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