Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wooed business leaders in Oman to invest in India, which, he said, “offered a large and growing market”, during his meeting with them here on Sunday. Singh, who is on his first visit to West Asia, said: “Our total non-oil trade which was less than $200 million in 2000 has gone up seven-fold to around $1.4 billion. I am told this could soon cross $2 billion.”
“I would call upon captains of Oman’s industry and financial companies to invest surplus liquidity into key infrastructure sectors in India. There is vast potential for cooperation in the energy, fertilizers, IT, tourism and education sectors.”
“Oman’s economy is witnessing robust growth. There are ambitious plans for investment in infrastructure, diversification of the industrial base, tourism, free trade zones and energy security,” he added.
The Indian economy, Singh said, has witnessed a rapid and sustained growth, averaging nine per cent over the last four years. “The macro economic fundamentals of the economy are sound. Our domestic savings rate is 35 per cent of our GDP and our investment rate is 37 per cent of our GDP. Our young demographic profile will lead to a further increase in these rates of savings and investment over the coming years,” the PM said.
“Our infrastructure financing needs are estimated to be $500 US billion in the next five years. India offers a large and growing market. Despite the global economic downturn, the Indian economy is expected to maintain a growth rate of 7 to 7.5 per cent next year.”
India is likely to sign a Free Trade Agreement with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council by next year. The PM held extensive discussions on the FTA with Oman on this issue.
On the MoU signed to establish the India-Oman Joint Investment Fund on Saturday, he said the Fund is the first step to facilitate investments in infrastructure, tourism, health, telecom, utilities, urban infrastructure and other sectors.
“Against the background of the current international economic and financial situation I suggest there is an even greater need for us to join hands to shape counter-cyclical growth strategies,” the PM said.
Later, addressing the Indian community members at the Indian embassy here, Singh said, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong. Our banking system and financial institutions are well capitalized and secure. I have constituted a high level committee to monitor the situation and suggest short-term and long-term measure to use this opportunity to further accelerate our growth.”
“Your contribution to the development of India is invaluable. Annual remittances from Oman are more than $780 million,” he said.