Following is the text of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement at a joint press conference in Brasilia with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil.
"It is indeed a pleasure and privilege to visit this beautiful country. I would like to thank President Lula for the extremely gracious reception and hospitality.
My visit to Brazil is after a 38 year-old hiatus since the last visit by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The significance of this bilateral visit is further enhanced by the holding of the first IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) Summit, which would be taking place on Thursday.
India and Brazil are large pluralistic democracies. Our economic growth is broad-based and multifaceted. This provides opportunities for expansion of our bilateral trade and economic relations. Our economic growth is also of global significance, as part of the so-called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries.
I convey to President Lula today that India will support all efforts to ensure a qualitative transformation of our bilateral relations and their elevation to that of a strategic partnership. I am very happy that President Lula has graciously accepted this suggestion. To further facilitate and coordinate cooperation in various areas, a strategic dialogue has been agreed to.
Our bilateral trade has grown in the last five years. From a mere $500 million in 2002, trade between our two countries has increased fivefold to reach $2.5 billion. We are hopeful of further rapid expansion in our bilateral trade in the coming years.
Implementation of the India-MERCOSUR PTA and the proposed deepening and expansion of our trade relations in the framework of IBSA will be important steps in that direction.
We are indeed gratified that there has been an upsurge in investment flows. Major Indian companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Ranbaxy, Dr Reddy's among others, have taken advantage of opportunities in the Brazilian market. ONGC Videsh has earmarked approximately 400 million dollars for acquisition of a state in an offshore block in southeast Brazil.