Indo-Algerian trade pact on fast track

NEW DELHI OCT. 10. In a bid to give a new impetus to bilateral trade, India and Algeria have decided to move faster on steps to finalise a trade agreement as well as to set up joint ventures in the energy sector. A memorandum of understanding has also been concluded on information flows between the Press Trust of India (PTI) and the Algerian Press Agency (APA).

These issues were taken up in the three-day meeting of the Indo-Algerian Joint Commission that concluded here today. The agreed minutes of the meeting were signed by the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, S. B. Mookherjee, who led the Indian delegation and the Algerian Transport Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, the leader of the Algerian delegation.

While there has been a marked rise in trade between the two countries from $30.84 million in 2001-2 to $67.59 million in 2002-03, both sides agreed that there is scope to raise the volume of trade to much higher levels. An official release says a draft bilateral trade agreement has been under negotiation for quite some time. Both sides have decided to take steps to finalise the agreement "expeditiously,'' it is stated.

During the joint commission discussions, the Algerian side urged India to provide expertise in matters relating to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to Algerian officials and businesspersons. India has agreed to consider this request, the release says.

Both sides have agreed to set up joint ventures in the energy sector on commercial basis. The two sides welcomed the memorandum of understanding for economic cooperation in the field of small and medium scale enterprises and observed that it is an excellent basis for stimulating cooperation between companies of the two countries. In the banking and financial sectors, both sides have agreed to continue negotiations with a view to finalising the line of credit beween the Exim Bank of India and the Algerian Bank of Development. The two sides also discussed the agreement on mutual protection and promotion of investments.

The MOU between the two news agencies was signed by the PTI General Manager, M. K. Razdan, and the APS Director General, Nacer Meha.