President Pranab Mukherjee has invited investors from Belarus to India, the fastest-growing emerging economy, to reap the fruits of its fast-growing markets and thereby increase bilateral trade from $400 million in 2013-14 to $1 billion in the current financial year.
The President said for investors and business partners, India is a fast-growing economy and expanding market and, for tourists and academicians it is a fascinating land of ancient culture and incredible regional diversities.
He said India attached great value to its friendship and co-operation with Belarus. ''Common interests of the two countries in the field of science and technology, complementarities in the fields of information technology and engineering, collaboration in energy and in pharmaceuticals - as well as close cooperation in defence, have linked both the countries in a long standing, fruitful partnership for mutual benefit.''
He said the government of India is taking a number of initiatives to channelise its significant resources towards inclusive growth of all constituents of economy and society – by encouraging investment, reviving the manufacturing sector, promoting skill development, developing smart cities and improving sanitation and cleanliness - especially of rivers.
India hopes to see substantial involvement by all its partners and friends in India and abroad to translate these goals into reality. Belarus has competencies in many of these areas, especially in construction machinery, urban development, vocational training and niche areas of manufacturing and technology. This is an opportune moment for Belarus. Indian companies are also keen to partner with Belarus in these sectors, he said.
Speaking at a joint business council meeting in Minsk, Mukherjee said consolidation measures have improved India's fiscal position, price levels have come down, manufacturing sector is in a nascent stage of revival and agricultural growth has remained robust.
In the last leg of his five-day trip, Mukherjee said the turnover of trade between India and Belarus is modest and way below its real potential.
''I am, however, optimistic - my interactions with President Lukashenko make me hopeful that we can increase our trade to a level of $1 billion by the year 2020,'' he said.
The President said he was confident that this level is achievable if the range of items in the trade basket are expanded, the share of high-technology and value-added products increased and exchanges and cooperation in the services sector enhanced.
Mr. Mukherjee said to facilitate trade, both governments are keen to intensify cooperation in quality control, quarantine, certification of goods and standardisation as well as simplification of customs formalities.
''We will work together, bilaterally and in the context of the proposed partnership between India and the Eurasian Economic Union, to address any existing trade barriers and to avoid introduction of new barriers to trade,'' he said.
The President announced that India has decided to grant 'Market Economy Status' to Belarus, which will be a significant step towards enhancing bilateral trade and also in promoting greater integration of Belarus in international trade structures.