Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the European Union (EU) to boost investment in the South Asian country, saying that India is ready to create more investment opportunities for its biggest trading partner.
Addressing the 13th India-EU Summit in Brussels on Wednesday, the Indian premier said that trade, investment and security co-operation are pillars of bilateral ties. In the presence of European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the visiting premier also said that it would be difficult for his government to revive the Indian economy and create jobs without receiving help from the EU.
Modi told the 28-member European bloc that both India and the EU would have to make progress on concrete areas, like trade and investment, foreign and security policy, climate, energy, water and migration. He told the Summit: “Today, we live in an interdependent world. India offers a huge opportunity – not just a market but also a huge talent pool.”
However, India-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks failed to make headway, as many bottlenecks still remain. In a joint statement, the two parties said that they would try to resolve the outstanding issues as soon as possible. “The leaders welcomed that both sides have re-engaged in discussions with a view to considering how to further the EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) negotiations,” added the statement. According to sources close to Brussels, Modi invited European Parliament President Martin Schulz to visit India for further discussion on BTIA. The two leaders once again confirmed their shared commitment to oppose protectionism and to work for a fair, transparent and rules-based trade and investment environment. Schulz welcomed the Modi administration’s readiness to establish a mechanism for facilitating investments of all EU member states.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi requested the EU to strengthen co-operation with India on counter-terrorism. He stressed: “New Delhi stood shoulder to shoulder with Brussels following the March 22 terror attacks” that killed a 31-year-old Indian IT worker based in the Belgian capital. He also called on all nations to unite against terrorism, saying that India, which has been battling terrorism for 40 years, feels the pain of lives lost in March 22 terror attacks in Belgium.
Later, Prime Minister Modi paid tribute to the victims at a street memorial outside Maelbeek Metro Station, where bomb attacks took place last week. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, too, was present at the memorial.
During his hectic day-long stay in Brussels, the Indian premier also held a separate meeting with his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel to discuss various important bilateral, regional and international issues. They agreed to take necessary steps in order to boost bilateral ties.
Brussels was the first leg of Modi’s five-day three-nation tour of Belgium, the US and Saudi Arabia. After concluding his visit to Brussels, Modi arrived in Washington on Thursday to attend the 4th Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). During the two-day (March 31-April 1) Summit, he is scheduled to make some specific announcements and proposals with regard to nuclear security. India will also submit a national progress report on nuclear security at the summit, which is expected to deliberate on ways to tackle nuclear terrorism.