India, Qatar to ramp defence,
economic, energy ties
Nov 10 (IANS) India and Qatar signed two deals on ramping
their defence and security cooperation and discussed means
to enhance their economic and energy ties during Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh's visit here.
two agreements - one on security and law enforcement and another
on defence cooperation - were signed Sunday evening after
Singh's arrival here on the first visit by an Indian prime
minister to this Gulf nation.
official sources said Monday that a free trade agreement between
India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is
likely to be signed as early as 2009.
Singh, who arrived here Sunday evening from Oman on the last
leg of his three-day Gulf tour, held extensive discussions
with Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabor
Al Thani to enhance existing ties in the fields of energy,
economy and trade.
annually imports 7.5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas
(LNG) from Qatar.
discussions focused on how to upgrade the energy deal between
the two sides from a buyer-seller relationship to a more sustainable
relationship involving investments leading to a long-term
security and law enforcement agreement lays out the framework
for sharing of information and database on threats posed by
terrorists, money laundering and smuggling of narcotics.
pact on defence cooperation lays out a structure for training
programmes by the two sides, exchange of goodwill missions
two sides also reviewed a number of regional and international
issues of mutual concern.
Monday, Manmohan Singh met with Qatar's ruler Sheikh Hamad
Bin Khalifa Al Thani.
also met members of the expatriate Indian community at a reception
organised by the Indian embassy in Doha, during the course
of which he stated that India will eventually return to a
9 percent growth trajectory despite the current global financial
crisis because of its inherent strengths and size of its.
present international economic and financial situation has
clouded some of the prospects of growth in the near term,"
am, however, confident that the long term outlook for our
economy remains strong and robust. Our inherent strengths,
the large size of our markets, the diversified industrial
base we possess, and the strong and dynamic private sector
will eventually allow us to return to a 9 percent growth trajectory,"
420,000, Indians comprise the largest expatriate community
in this Gulf nation.
addressing a gathering of the Omani business community in
Muscat Sunday, Singh had said that despite the global economic
downturn, the Indian economy was expected to maintain a growth
rate of seven to 7.5 percent.
about the FTA, the source said: "Next year, Oman is going
to occupy the chair of the GCC and the prime minister has
said that we should be ready to sign the FTA anytime in 2009."
Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) comprise the GCC.
FTA will essentially include three things - goods, investments
the media accompanying the prime minister's delegation, Secretary
(East) N. Ravi said a decision on the FTA is likely to be
taken as early as December this year.
terms of services as well as investments, apparently there
is a reasonable degree of overlap," he said.
terms of goods, the Omani side is examining the Indian offer
of various concessions we will give to different categories
of goods," Ravi added.
was the first country to propose an FTA between the Gulf and
FTA between the two sides has been in the works for a long
time now, but the need to expedite it has risen given the
current global financial crisis.
prime minister was accompanied on the visit by Minister for
Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Minister of State
for External Affairs E. Ahamed.
Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia
and National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan were also part
of the delegation.