By Ranjana Narayan, New Delhi, Feb 9 IANS | 6 months ago

High-level visits, especially from India, have been few and far between. Now India is seeking to push its economic engagement with the 30 countries in Central Europe with a maiden business forum meeting.


The India-Central Europe Business Forum meeting being held here March 27-28 will be a platform for the Central European countries, many of which are members of the European Union, to interact with Indian business and forge new economic tie-ups.

Invitations to the forum, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, have been sent. Most countries have indicated their willingness to participate, a source said.

Many countries, including Bulgaria, Austria, Norway and Poland, are taking part in the Defexpo in New Delhi, showcasing their prowess in defence and niche high technology areas that are valuable to India's defence sector.

As a precursor to the March event, the envoys of the Central European countries were invited for a meeting in the capital last week, the source added.

"We are hoping for a good turnout for the business forum. We will hold business-to-business sessions and focus country events," an official told IANS, not wishing to be identified.

FICCI has already launched a web page on the event.

The Central European countries, especially former Warsaw Pact countries and breakaway countries of Yugoslavia, specialise in niche high technology areas like nano physics, satellites and different materials that could be useful for India's defence sector, the source added.

Besides business ties, some Central European countries are seeking to forge education tie-ups.

Fourteen vice chancellors from the Czech Republic, a landlocked country in Europe bordering Germany, would visit Mumbai and Delhi to seek tie-ups in higher education.

Representatives from seven Latvian universities would set up an office in Chennai to woo Indian students. Latvia is in the Baltic region of Northern Europe.

Renewable energy is another field some of these countries, especially the Nordic ones, are keen to partner with India.

Going beyond trade, India would participate in an international film festival at Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in August. India would send a big delegation, the source added.

With the Latvian capital Riga named the 2014 European Capital of Culture, India would send a delegations for cultural events to be held there through the year.

Since many countries are part of the European Union and Schengen - where one visa can be used for all - Central Europe would be an ideal gateway for Indian business to tap into the growing EU market. The countries are also offering special incentives like low tax regimes to attract Indian business.

The 30 Central European countries are: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at ranjana.n@ians.in)

(Posted on 09-02-2014)