Finance Minister Alogoskoufis Visits India

The Minister of Finance and National Economy of Greece, Mr. Georgios Alogoskoufis made an official visit to Delhi during 7-11 February 2007, leading a large business delegation (about 40 companies from Greece). He met with the Union Finance Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram, the Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr. Kamal Nath, and Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee. He also addressed a business meeting organized by FICCI, focusing on the business environment in Greece, and opportunities for Indian business in Greece.

Business meetings were organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry with Indian companies. Separately, the CII and SEV signed an MOU for collaboration during the visit.

Alagoskoufis’s visit indicated the high importance being attached by the Greek government to boosting economic linkages with India. It represents a good opportunity for Indian business to further develop their business not only in Greece, but also through Greek partners, in the Balkan/South Eastern European region, which is likely to witness significant growth. Sectors that are especially promising for cooperation are – shipping, tourism, IT, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food processing, and renewable energy.

In the energy sector, Alogoskoufis cited Athens’ interest in supplying liquefied natural gas to India and in participating in projects to develop renewable forms of energy in that country (wind, biofuels etc.) Air transport was also discussed, particularly with the establishment of direct flights between Greece and India and the likelihood of a London-Athens-New Delhi route.

India and Greece are likely to soon sign agreements on avoidance of double taxation and investment protection. “We will soon sign an agreement on avoidance of double taxation and another on bilateral investment protection with India,” Greek Minister of Economy and Finance George Alogoskoufis said here today after meeting Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

Greece has cordial and friendly relations with India. Recent visits of Mr. Anand Sharma, Minister of State for External Affairs in August 2006, and a Parliamentary delegation led by the Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker Lok Sabha had underlined the many commonalities between Greece and India. However, there is considerable potential for further boosting economic relations. Greece is a member of the EU, the Eurozone, the Schengen Group, and has been playing an active role in the integration of South eastern European and Balkan countries into the EU.

Indian exports to Greece reached $ 467 mn (Jan-Sep 2006), compared to $ 286 mn (Jan-Sept 2005), an increase of 63 % . Greece’s total imports were $ 47 bn (Jan-Sep 2006) and $ 41 bn ( Jan-Sep 2005). Greek exports to India were $ 44 mn (Jan-Sep 2006) and $ 31 mn (Jan-Sep 2005), increasing by 43 %.

About 13,000 Indian migrants, mostly from Punjab are in Greece, working mostly on farms.

Partnerships between Greek and Indian companies have been increasing. Greek banks have contracted IT services from Indian companies such as i-Flex solutions, Infosys, and TCS. Eurodyn, a Greek IT company has set up a subsidiary in Bangalore. Pisani Group of Greece has set up a 50 % joint venture in Dindigul for exports of speciality stone and granite products. M. J. Mailis of Greece has set up a joint venture in Gujarat for production of secondary packaging materials. Jain Irrigation Systems has invested in Eurodrip, a Greek company, through the Athens stock exchange. 

     Speech by George Alogoskoufis in New Delhi, 10 minutes.