By Karl Schembri
Foreign Minister Michael Frendo has pledged to open a doorway to European and North African markets for Indian companies during a visit to the country last week.
“Malta is a business location from which companies can access the European and North African markets which are geographically close to us,” Frendo said in New Delhi last Saturday. “This would help Indian companies in accessing newer markets, cutting their forwarding costs and in the process providing an opportunity to be more profitable.”
The two countries signed a bilateral agreement with Malta for the avoidance of double taxation.
Frendo and his Indian counterpart K. Natwar Singh also signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which provides for yearly political consultations between the two countries on areas of mutual interest.
The current business between India and Malta is mainly focused on India exporting cotton, organic chemicals and clothing accessories while Malta is exporting optical, photographic apparatus and edible preparations, Frendo said.
The Minister added that with the high level of technological proficiency in the local populace, the country can act as a research and development outpost for Indian pharmaceutical companies.
“Indian companies should realise that we do not want to create a situation which is disadvantegeous for Maltese companies. Our reason to attract Indian investment is to integrate the synergies of Indian and Maltese companies so that together we can become important players in the region's market,” Frendo said.
The Minister also said Indian software firms could use Maltese companies as back up service providers in the region.
Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath told Frendo that with Malta having recently joined the European Union, it made a useful interlocutor for India's trade policy negotiations with the EU.
According to statistics released by the Indian government, trade between Malta and India has been increasing over the years and reached US$98 million between 2003 and 2004.