India to redesign Gulf interactions in COVID-19 era: conference

Bhattacharyya urged business leaders to give shape to India’s economic engagement with the Gulf


New Delhi- India is keen to discuss at relevant levels how to redesign its interactions with the Gulf and the rest of the Arab world, while accepting that the new coronavirus may not be completely eliminated, India’s top official in charge of the region has proposed.

"In the new Covid-era, there will be changes in social interactions, institutional exchanges and individual preferences. At the economic level, our new normal will depend on the revival of old business, the innovation and complementarities created and the new businesses engaged in," Sanjay Bhattacharyya, Secretary in charge of Gulf and West Asia, in the Ministry of External Affairs, said in New Delhi.

West Asia is the geographical term used in India to describe the Arab region that extends beyond South Asia up to the African continent. Bhattacharyya was speaking at a conference on "Gulf and West Asia: Reimagining Business Beyond Oil" at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, FICCI, a leading representative organisation of trade and manufacturing.

The conference is part of "FICCI Leads 2020," described by the Chamber as a four-day endeavour to evolve a shared vision among global leaders and to reimagine economic growth on the pillars of open economies, economic resilience and multilateralism.

Bhattacharyya urged business leaders to give shape to India’s economic engagement with the Gulf and the rest of the Arab world in the COVID-era.

"COVID was an unprecedented disruption, at all levels, across the world," he said. "With the Arab world, we cooperated on repatriation of stranded citizens, in both directions. Vande Bharat Mission, the largest repatriation exercise, was possible because of the active support from our partners in the region. We thank you for your cooperation. India provided emergency medical supplies to several Arab countries and deployed medical teams." While sovereign wealth funds in the Gulf can play a key role in the growth of regional economic ties with India, the potential also exists for Indian investments in the Arab economies, Bhattacharyya pointed out.

"Many Arab countries have free trade agreements with the European Union and the US, besides being ideally placed for third country trade and investments. Arab countries and Indian businesses can both benefit by plugging into each other’s economic growth and development priorities." He called for transformation of a segment of regional economic interaction to an "ahead of the curve" partnership focused on technology collaboration, research and development and high capital-intensive projects that drive future-oriented growth.

"The relations that we have enjoyed across the Arabian Sea for centuries can be consolidated with the incorporation of the new winds of change sweeping across our region," the Indian official said.

© Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2020.

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