In­dia-Spain re­la­tions

FICCI Business Digest - - Contents -

The ar­eas that the In­dian Gov­ern­ment has out­lined as its na­tional pri­or­i­ties are pre­cisely those where Span­ish com­pa­nies can boast of world class ex­per­tise.

The story of In­dia-Spain re­la­tions could ar­guably have been dif­fer­ent if five cen­turies ago, when there was a keen in­ter­est in Spain to dis­cover a sea route to In­dia, a cer­tain Christo­pher Colum­bus had not missed the left turn on ex­it­ing the Straits of Gi­bral­tar! Just as men­tion of this his­tor­i­cal episode is om­nipresent in Indo-Span­ish dis­course, so is the preva­lence of stereotypes about our two coun­tries among our peo­ples. In Spain, In­dia is seen as the land of ma­hara­jas and mys­ti­cism while, in In­dia, Spain is imag­ined as the land of bull fight­ing, beaches and fla­menco. To­day, it is im­per­a­tive that the two coun­tries out­grow these stereotypes in or­der to bet­ter un­der­stand each other.

In­dia, an IT and hu­man re­source su­per­power, is to­day the fastest grow­ing ma­jor econ­omy in the world. In­vestors and fund man­agers around the world be­lieve that it will be one of the most sta­ble and con­sis­tent sources of de­mand for the fore­see­able fu­ture. Spain, hav­ing seen off the ef­fects of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, is to­day the fastest grow­ing ma­jor econ­omy in West­ern Europe. Given the im­pres­sive eco­nomic re­cov­ery in both coun­tries and the poli­cies be­ing adopted by the gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in a range of ar­eas, there is con­sid­er­able syn­ergy be­tween the two economies that is wait­ing to be ex­ploited.

By a happy co­in­ci­dence, the ar­eas that the In­dian Gov­ern­ment has out­lined as its na­tional pri­or­i­ties are pre­cisely those where Span­ish com­pa­nies can boast of world class ex­per­tise. For ex­am­ple, In­dian Rail­ways, which has one of the largest net­works in the world, is look­ing at in­vest­ing nearly US$130 bil­lion in the next 5 years as part of its mod­ern­iza­tion pro­gramme. Spain has the sec­ond long­est high speed rail­way net­work in the world, trans­port­ing nearly 30 mil­lion pas­sen­gers a year at speeds up to 350 kmph and Span­ish com­pa­nies are well placed to ben­e­fit from this by sup­ply­ing rolling stock as well as systems, ser­vices and ex­per­tise. There could also be an

ex­cit­ing in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity for Span­ish com­pa­nies in this sec­tor, which al­lows 100% For­eign Di­rect In­vest­ment (FDI).

Sim­i­larly, un­der its Smart Cities Mis­sion, the In­dian gov­ern­ment is tar­get­ing the de­vel­op­ment of 100 new smart cities and con­tribut­ing US$15 bil­lion over the next five years alone to this project. With one of the largest net­works of Smart Cities in the world and with ex­pe­ri­ence that is most rel­e­vant to In­dia, Spain and Span­ish com­pa­nies are ide­ally suited to help im­ple­ment smart ur­ban so­lu­tions in In­dia and con­trib­ute to our ur­ban re­gen­er­a­tion.

Un­der Prime Min­is­ter Modi's lead­er­ship, In­dia has set it­self the tar­get of adding 175 GW of renewable energy ca­pac­ity by 2022 with a view to in­creas­ing power sup­ply in the coun­try and also com­bat­ing cli­mate change. Spain is con­sid­ered a pioneer in renewable energy and is among the top 5 coun­tries in the world in terms of in­stalled wind power ca­pac­ity. Given the fact that Span­ish com­pa­nies are al­ready ac­tive in In­dia in this field, they are in pole po­si­tion to ben­e­fit from these plans of the gov­ern­ment.

In­fra­struc­ture is an area that will see in­tense ac­tiv­ity in In­dia in the com­ing years. The gov­ern­ment's ini­tia­tives on build­ing in­dus­trial cor­ri­dors, roads, ports, air­ports and as­so­ci­ated in­fra­struc­ture will mean un­prece­dented in­vest­ments in con­struc­tion. With 100% FDI al­lowed through the au­to­matic route for con­struc­tion of town­ships and cities, it is a sec­tor of great in­ter­est for Span­ish en­gi­neer­ing com­pa­nies, which are among the largest global en­gi­neer­ing con­trac­tors and are im­ple­ment­ing iconic projects across the world like the ex­pan­sion of the Panama Canal and the con­struc­tion of a high­speed rail­way line be­tween Mecca and Me­d­ina.

This is only an il­lus­tra­tive list to demon­strate the op­por­tu­ni­ties that ex­ist for Spain and In­dia to strengthen their bi­lat­eral eco­nomic and com­mer­cial re­la­tions. How­ever, it is im­por­tant for both sides to put in place the nec­es­sary in­sti­tu­tional mech­a­nisms that will fa­cil­i­tate such co­op­er­a­tion. For ex­am­ple, while both coun­tries have al­ready set up a CEOs' Fo­rum com­pris­ing the larger com­pa­nies, Small and Medium En­ter­prises (SMEs) have an equally im­por­tant role to play in the growth of trade and in­vest­ment be­tween In­dia and Spain. It is im­por­tant that the two gov­ern­ments work closely with the cham­bers of com­merce on both sides to help the SMEs un­der­stand the mar­ket and busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment and hand­hold them in suc­cess­fully es­tab­lish­ing a busi­ness pres­ence in each other's coun­try. Both coun­tries also need to par­tic­i­pate much more vig­or­ously in spe­cific trade and in­vest­ment events in or­der to gain first-hand knowl­edge and ex­ploit the op­por­tu­ni­ties for net­work­ing that such events of­fer. It is im­por­tant also to strengthen in­sti­tu­tional re­la­tions be­tween our two gov­ern­ments, cham­bers and busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions. In this re­gard, the MoU be­ing signed be­tween FICCI and the Spain Cham­ber of Com­merce will strengthen co­op­er­a­tion in key ar­eas of in­ter­est for busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties from both sides.

Spain is a pre­dom­i­nant po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic part­ner for Latin Amer­ica, given its shared cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal re­la­tions with the con­ti­nent. It is among the largest in­vestors in Latin Amer­ica and Span­ish busi­nesses are lead­ers in a wide range of sec­tors. For In­dian busi­nesses look­ing to ex­plore op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Latin American mar­ket, Span­ish busi­nesses would be natural al­lies.

The FICCI-IIFA Global Busi­ness Fo­rum is an ex­cel­lent plat­form to take the next steps in build­ing a more ro­bust com­mer­cial re­la­tion­ship be­tween In­dia and Spain. Jointly or­gan­ised by FICCI, IIFA and the Spain Cham­ber of Com­merce on June 24, 2016 in Madrid, pre­ced­ing the Bol­ly­wood ex­trav­a­ganza that fol­lows a day later, the Fo­rum will ex­plore the pos­si­bil­i­ties for co­op­er­a­tion in renewable energy, in­fra­struc­ture, ser­vices and me­dia & en­ter­tain­ment. High level par­tic­i­pa­tion from the two gov­ern­ments and ac­tive sup­port from in­sti­tu­tions on both sides will bring busi­nesses closer and help draw a roadmap for fu­ture en­gage­ment.

The year 2016 marks the 60th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween In­dia and Spain. In the spirit of dis­cov­ery that animated Colum­bus more than five cen­turies ago, it would be fit­ting to use this im­por­tant an­niver­sary to de­velop a strong and mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship be­tween In­dia and Spain, two coun­tries that have a lot more in com­mon than just the shared val­ues of democ­racy, plu­ral­ism and the rule of law. Let the voy­age of re­dis­cov­ery be­gin!.

Vikram Misri, In­dia's Am­bas­sador to Spain

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.