Highlighting India’s “investment-friendly policies”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday invited Qatar’s companies to “grab” the vast opportunities for business, especially in the infrastructure sector, while promising to remove “bottlenecks” identified by them.
On the second day of his visit to the oil-rich Gulf nation, he held an hour-long closed-door interaction with top business leaders of Qatar, telling them about the work done by his government over the last two years to facilitate the ease of doing business.
Qatar’s business community had some questions related to rules and clearances, to which Mr. Modi said his government had changed rules and norms to enable easier Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in a number of sectors, sources said.
He specifically mentioned sectors like railways, defence, manufacturing and food processing. He also spoke about the big opportunity existing in the tourism sector.
The Prime Minister told them that his government will continue to work for easing the norms and rules further to make it more easier to do business in India.
Inviting investments from Qatar’s companies, he said that India is a “land of opportunities and they should grab it”. In this context, he underlined the fact that India and Qatar have close ties and physically too the two countries are located close to each other.
“India is a land of opportunity. I have come to personally invite you to take advantage of this opportunity,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted, quoting Mr. Modi.
“All of you recognise the potential of India. I will address the bottlenecks you have identified,” Mr. Modi told the business leaders.
Addressing the meeting, the Prime Minister said, “there is a vast potential for Qatar investment authority to increase its investment in India, keeping in view India’s huge investment needs and investment-friendly policies.”
He said Qatar’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and other state-owned entities are keenly looking at attractive investment options in infrastructure in India.
“At the round-table with businesspersons from Qatar, discussed ways to enhance India-Qatar economic cooperation,” Mr. Modi tweeted later.
“Also talked about the investment opportunities in India and why the world must come and @makeinindia,” he added.
He also noted that in the last two years, “there has been a substantial growth in India’s exports to Qatar”.
The major items of exports include machinery, textiles, electronics, construction material, chemical, spices and cereals.
Among the 10 business leaders were Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al-Thani, Chairman of QBA & CEO of Al Faisal Holding, Sheikh Fahad M J Al-Thani, Chairman of Doha Bank and Rashid Ali Al-Mansoori, CEO of Qatar Stock Exchange.
While inviting Qatar’s business community, the Prime Minister said, “India’s 800 million youth are its biggest strength. Infrastructure expansion & upgradation & manufacturing are my other priorities,” the MEA spokesman tweeted.
“Our projects for Smart Cities, metros, urban waste management etc are geared towards upgrading quality of life of people,” Mr. Modi added.
The Prime Minister identified agro processing, railways & solar energy as very promising areas for Qatari investment.
He praised the role of Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Thani in promoting business ties between the two countries.
The bilateral trade for the financial year 2014—15 stood at $15.67 billion, of which India’s exports accounted for nearly $1 billion.
The balance of trade is heavily in favour of Qatar.
India is the third largest export destination for Qatar after Japan and South Korea, with LNG being the major item of trade. India is also a major buyer of ethylene, propylene, ammonia, urea and polyethylene from Qatar.
Mr. Modi, who is on a five-nation visit, landed in Qatar on Saturday from Afghanistan.
Mr. Modi will also visit Switzerland, the U.S. and Mexico as part of the tour.