Belgrade (Serbia): Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday called for more exchange of business delegation to boost the trade ties between India and Serbia.
Addressing the Special Session of the National Assembly of Serbia, Vice President Naidu talked about bilateral ties between the two countries, parliamentary democratic systems, shared history, bilateral trade, global terrorism among other things.
"Our annual bilateral trade is currently about USD 200 million. Undoubtedly, this is much below the true potential. More exchange of business delegations is necessary to boost our bilateral trade further. While there is a need for boosting our bilateral trade, investment in each other's countries and more innovative approaches are necessary for the strengthening of economic ties," he added.
Terming Serbia as one of the oldest in Europe to have National Assembly and constitution, the Vice President said, "Both Serbia and India share a common commitment to democratic values and the need to continuously nurture the democratic spirit for improving the quality of the lives of our people. Indians, having firm belief in Parliamentary democracy, are deeply impressed by Serbia's strong Parliamentary tradition. The Parliaments of our two countries had the privilege and benefit of learning from each other. I am happy that the dialogue is continuing through the Serbian National Assembly's Parliamentary Friendship Group with India."
He further talked about Indian parliamentary system and drew comparisons with that of Serbia. "While Serbia has a unicameral Parliament, India's federal structure requires a bicameral body to give adequate representation to the States. Nurturing and encouraging participatory democracy, our Parliament has been instrumental in ushering in social change and development through progressive legislation. The accent is on preserving the democratic spirit by putting the people at the centre of the development architecture."
Vice-president also talked about International Day of Democracy and quoted from Kautilya's Artha Shastra to proclaim that popular democracy and representative institutions are neither entirely alien to the Indian soil nor of recent origin and the history of democratic traditions in India, in fact, "goes back to the Vedic period".
Recalling that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Siberia, Vice President emphasised on India-Serbia ties and said, "Even much before the post-independence period of India people to people interaction between these two parts of the world has contributed richly to their intellectual and cultural capital. The economic reforms in India and in Serbia in the 1990s have effectively converted some of the major challenges into opportunities. I am delighted that Serbia had abolished visa requirements for short-term visit by all Indian passports holders last year."
He also mentioned that Swami Vivekananda's thoughts and ideas left a deep impression on Nikola Tesla's work which has been acknowledged by postal services of both countries by jointly bringing out commemorative stamps on these two visionaries.
The Vice President also reiterated India's principled stand and support for Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and asserted that India firmly believes that the Kosovo issue should be resolved peacefully through consultation and dialogue.
He also asserted that mutual cooperation in the field of agriculture can benefit both countries in agriculture and food processing sector.
Vice President also called upon the private companies of both sides to join hands and benefit from India's liberalszed policy in defense production and defence procurement.
Highlighting India's growth story in recent times, he said, "We are committed to build a five-trillion-dollar economy by 2025, making us the 3rd largest consumer market in the world. India has climbed 42 places in the World Bank's Ease of Business Index over the past two years and is committed to improving it further. We have also moved up 21 places on the Global Innovation Index of the WIPO in two years as well as 19 places on the Logistics Performance Index of 2016 of the World Bank."
The Vice President also apprised the National Assembly of Siberia of the increase in the Foreign Direct Investment in India and said, "Foreign Direct Investment as a fairly accurate indicator of foreign confidence in a nation's political and economic systems is widely acknowledged. According to the latest data, FDI inflow into India rose to USD35.9 billion over the period April to December 2017. In fact, FDI has risen from USD36 billion in 2013-14 to USD60 billion in 2016-17. We have a TRIPS-compliant IPR regime and our multi-party democracy ensures essential stability and predictability."
Vice President Naidu also talked about GST and Jan Dhan Yojna while speaking about economic reforms in the country.