Special Correspondent

`Huge opportunities exist for both countries'

Irish Academy of Sciences, Indian Academy of Sciences to sign pact Bilateral trade increased from $187.31 million in 2001-02 to $383.87 million in 2004-05 India has maintained an average trade surplus of $26 million for five years

Bangalore: Ireland is keen on establishing stronger ties with India, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Development, Ireland, Michael Martin, said. "It is a beginning of a new relationship and should see both the countries ramp up the volume of trade," he added.

Speaking at a function organised by the FIEO, he said "huge opportunities" existed for both India and Ireland in firming up ties. Areas such as telecommunication, biotechnology, agro-based products, infrastructure development can be tapped.

Talking about future linkages, he said the Irish Academy of Sciences and the Indian Academy of Sciences will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote research and development between the two countries. Ireland has benefited substantially from foreign direct investment (FDI) and he hoped India will stand to benefit from FDI.

Chairman of Irish Exporters' Association Liam Shannon said the growth of infrastructure development in India threw up opportunities for Irish companies. While Irish companies can facilitate development here, Indian companies too have their strengths. "An outward looking India will make it an economic power," he said.

FIEO convenor of Agro Exports Committee Walter D'Souza said bilateral trade between India and Ireland has grown at a steady pace in the past three years. From $187.31 million in 2001-02, it has grown to $383.87 million in the last financial year. During the last five years, India has maintained an average trade surplus of $26 million at an average growth rate of 27 per cent with Ireland.

Mr. D'Souza said there is tremendous scope for increasing Indo-Irish commercial linkages among small and medium enterprises.

Sectors that offer scope include engineering, biotechnology, information technology, infrastructure, food processing, speciality chemicals, tourism, entertainment including animation and gaming.