The Union Minister of Commerce, Industry & Textiles Anand Sharma has called for institutional linkages between the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the diamond facilities in India, specifically in the areas of diamond and gem stone grading and sorting; research and development; certification; cutting and polishing, in a bilateral meeting with Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs, Belgium, here today.
The Minister also discussed the scope of AWDC organising training/ graduation courses in gemology and cutting and sorting of rough and polished diamonds/ gem stones. He added that this would enhance the manufacturing capacity and productivity in this sector, which in turn would benefit the Antwerp diamond industry too.
Sharma also emphasised that the trade between both the countries is dominated at present by the gems and jewellery sector which accounts for about 69.84% of the bilateral trade. The Belgian Minister Didier Reynders also conveyed keen desire to cooperate in this area.
Both the Ministers identified health and life sciences as key areas of cooperation. Here, Sharma suggested that owing to India’s strength in the pharmaceutical sector, Belgium could consider outsourcing some of the Research & Development in this industry to the laboratories in India.
It was also agreed that both the countries will work in a targeted manner in the fields of agro-processing, vocational training, and advanced engineering and manufacturing.
Briefing the Belgian Minister on the proposed National Manufacturing and Investment Zones (NMIZs), Sharma invited participation of Belgian companies, especially in the fields of training and research.
Didier Reynders offered Belgian expertise in water treatment, waste disposal, and energy sectors, which could be useful in NMIZs.
Sharma, asserting that Belgium is an important trading partner for India, expressed satisfaction over the growing trade and investment between the two countries in the face of the global financial slowdown.
However both the Ministers noted that there is scope for improvement. In the year 2011, the bilateral trade between India and Belgium was USD 17.755bn, which increased from US$ 12.298bn in 2010.
It is to be noted that the exports in the year 2010 were USD 4.854bn which increased to USD 7.397bn in 2011. On the other hand, imports in the year 2010 were USD 7.444bn which also increased to USD 10.358bn in 2011.