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Home > First Board Meeting of India-Cote d’Ivoire Business Council (ICIBC) 18 June 2014

First Board Meeting of India-Cote d’Ivoire Business Council (ICIBC) 18 June 2014

 

 

Intervention by H.E. Mr. Dinesh Bhatia, Ambassador of India

At First Board Meeting of India-Cote d’Ivoire Business Council (ICIBC)

18 June 2014

 

Mr. Ansu Bajla, President of the Business Council and Director of Taurian Manganese & Ferro Alloy,

Mr. Guy M’BENGUE, Vice President of Business Council and President of Cote d’Ivoire Exports Promotion Agency (APEX-CI), 

Distinguished Members of ICIBC and Members of Media,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I consider this my absolute privilege to be here this morning to address this inaugural Board meeting of India-Cote d’Ivoire Business Council (ICIBC). My greetings to all of you.

 

2.        We all are aware that this Business Council was established during the visit to Delhi of Ivorian Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Daniel Kablan DUNCAN in 2013.  With the formal launch of the Council today, I hope that it would become an active platform for business consultations between India and Cote d’Ivoire.

 

3.        Let me first talk about India, the largest democracy in the world.  We have recently undergone a humongous exercise of Parliamentary elections following which a new Government led by the dynamic Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Narendra Modi has taken over.  Let me remind this august gathering here that India had more than 814 million registered voters out of which more than 66 percent exercised their right to vote.

 

4.        While India has had centuries old relations with Africa, these were limited primarily to the Eastern and Southern part of Africa.  The relations between India and the West Africa, though new in figurative terms, are now several decades old.  We opened our Embassy in Abidjan in 1979.  Many Indian companies started their operations and they have now thriving businesses in the last three decades or so. 

 

5.        India and Cote d’Ivoire have maintained close and friendly political relations.  I, however, feel that the same is not commensurately reflected in our economic ties. I also feel that we are nowhere close to the true potential that exists between our two countries.

 

6.        I have been in Abidjan for more than two months, and, I can say with confidence that, if I had sown seeds of any agricultural commodity on my arrival in Abidjan, it would have already brought me a wonderful harvest by this time.  With so much agricultural potential, I feel that there is a pregnant future for Cote d’Ivoire.

 

7.        To me, strong complementarities are evident between our two countries – not only in the traditional fields of the mining and agriculture, but also a lot in livestock, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, micro-finance, education, transport, energy and infrastructure. 

 

8.        The Government of India have been working with Cote d’Ivoire through various instruments including Lines of Credit.  India has extended Lines of Credit to Cote d’Ivoire totaling US$112.3 million since 2005.  We have been assisting Cote d’Ivoire in the capacity building and providing fully paid scholarships to about 100 students every year.  India is also a favoured destination for hundreds of Ivorian students going for short-term training courses as well as graduate, post-graduate and research programmes.

 

9.        The bilateral trade which touched nearly US$ 800 million in the last fiscal is a miniscule amount when seen against the possibilities.  The possibilities, if seen only from the narrow prism of export promotion, will naturally be restricted.  I think we need to see the big picture and ensure that India have larger business presence in Cote d’Ivoire. The Indian business, of course, would need to bring in the three pronged strategy of investment, value addition and employment generation if it really wants to partner with Cote d’Ivoire in the true spirit of South-South Cooperation. The promotion of exports and overall bilateral trade will obviously be the by-products of this strategy. 

 

10.      Some of our companies like Tata, Taurian and Shiloh Minerals have already ventured on this path. I think a lot more needs to be done.  With this background, I see the role of India-Cote d’Ivoire Business Council as critical.  I would be happy if the Business Council and the Embassy of India in Abidjan work closely to achieve our common objectives.  I assure full support from me and my team to the efforts of the Business Council in this regard.  I look forward to working closely with all of you. 

 

11.      I thank you for your patient hearing.

 

Thank you. 

 

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