His Excellency Dr. Deepak Mittal, Ambassador of the Republic of India to the State, praised the level of Qatari-Indian relations, as cooperation in the field of energy represents a strong base for bilateral relations. Doha is the largest supplier of LNG to India and meets nearly 50% of its demand. India is among the top three export destinations for Qatar and it is also among the top three sources of imports for Qatar.
In a dialogue with the East, His Excellency stressed that there is a common desire to move the relationship to the highest level, and to work side by side outside the traditional areas of cooperation. He explained that India is committed to increasing communication with West Asia and maintaining regular consultations with Qatar on issues of common interest, as Qatar played an important role in mediation efforts, especially by hosting the Afghan peace negotiations in Doha.
* A reliable partner
– what is the level of trade exchange between Doha and India, and what are the most important sectors?
Bilateral trade between Qatar and India totaled $ 10.95 billion in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, and despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, bilateral trade remained robust and exceeded $ 8 billion. India was one of the largest consumers of Qatar’s exports, accounting for around 18 percent of total exports in the past few months.
Major exports from Qatar to India include liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, chemicals, petrochemicals, plastics and aluminum manufactures. India is among the top three export destinations for Qatar, and it is also among the top three sources of imports for Qatar.
Qatar is a long-term and reliable partner in India’s energy security and is the largest supplier of LNG, meeting nearly 50% of its demand. In addition to other important sectors such as infrastructure, heavy engineering, manufacturing, consulting and information technology.
There are 24 Indian wholly owned companies in Qatar and an estimated more than 6000 joint ventures between Qatar and India operating in the infrastructure, information technology, communications and energy sectors in the country, and it was also agreed to hold the first meeting of the joint committee in India as soon as possible.
– are there new areas and opportunities for economic cooperation?
India is a strong and promising market with high potential and is preparing to become the fastest growing economy in the world in 2021. India and Qatar are committed to diversifying and strengthening economic cooperation. Food security, healthcare and infrastructure are important priorities for Qatar and India and provide tremendous opportunities for economic cooperation.
We see enormous potential for strengthening cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector, as India plays a pioneering role, especially during the pandemic pandemic that has made India the title of “the world’s pharmacy”. India has a large number of institutions for cooperation in the education sector, developing workforce skills, strong cooperation in the food and agricultural technology sectors, and the creation of a dedicated food corridor between India and Qatar would benefit both countries and improve food security.
* Non-traditional cooperation
– What about joint investments between the two countries and what are the prospects for their development?
According to what was conveyed by our Minister of Foreign Affairs during his visit to Qatar, India is keen to form alliances that go beyond traditional areas of cooperation, and he briefed the Qatari Chamber of Commerce and the Qatari Businessmen Association about new ways of cooperation, recent policy and tax and legal reforms in India to facilitate investments.
A joint working group was formed between Qatar and India on energy to define investment projects. We want to go beyond the traditional seller-buyer relationship to an inclusive relationship. LNG expansion projects in the North Field in Qatar also open new opportunities in this regard.
India is the best market for diversifying the investment portfolio, as many investment methods have been established depending on the return such as real estate investment funds and infrastructure investment funds. Recently, the Government of India launched a US $ 1.5 trillion national infrastructure pipeline, which mainly consists of more than 7,000 investable infrastructure projects planned to be implemented by 2025. Given its size, private sector investment could play a role, including Investments from Qatar have an important role in its implementation.
* Peace of Afghanistan
– How do you find Doha’s role in playing mediation and resolving conflicts through dialogue and peace on a number of issues?
Qatar has played an important role in the mediation efforts, particularly by hosting the Afghan peace negotiations in Doha. As a neighbor of Afghanistan, India is committed to and supports all efforts aimed at bringing peace, security, stability and prosperity to Afghanistan. The Indian Minister of External Affairs participated in the opening of the peace talks in Doha. As mentioned, comprehensive peace efforts led by Afghans can bring long-term peace and stability.
India has allocated more than US $ 3 billion for development, reconstruction and capacity building in Afghanistan, and a number of major projects such as the Afghan-Indian Friendship Dam in Herat, the Afghan National Parliament building in Kabul, and the power grid supply between Kabul and northern Afghanistan, are testimony to the special status. Occupied by Afghanistan is in our priority.
At the Afghanistan Conference 2020 held in Geneva in November, India announced that we envision more than 100 community projects in Afghanistan. India will support the construction of the Shatt Dam in Afghanistan, which will provide safe drinking water for two million residents of Kabul.
We hope that intra-Afghan negotiations will pave the way to end the violence and restore peace and development in Afghanistan while preserving the gains of the past two decades and safeguarding the interests of minorities and women.
* The Shura Council
– How do you see the step of announcing the Shura Council elections in Doha?
The announcement of the Shura Council elections is a positive development and we welcome it. As the Indian Minister of External Affairs said, these measures enhance the feeling of community participation and support towards the constructive development of the nation. We also note that each country has its own unique political system that depends largely on its history and culture, as a friend. As we love the State of Qatar, we wish the elections all success.
– Qatar embraces a large Indian workforce How do you find the reforms that Qatar has implemented?
We welcome and appreciate the series of very progressive measures to reform the labor law adopted by the government of the State of Qatar. These are positive steps towards promoting and protecting the rights of the migrant workforce. We continue to work with the Qatari authorities to ensure the welfare of Indian workers, and we are pleased to have good cooperation from the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs to solve problems quickly.
How did you find Qatar’s preparations for the 2022 World Cup?
The Indian Minister of External Affairs visited the Ahmed Bin Ali Football Stadium (Al Rayyan Stadium), which was jointly constructed by the Indian company L&T. We have seen progress in the preparations for the 2022 World Cup, and we are truly pleased with the participation of the company and the Indian workforce and their contribution to building and delivering the football infrastructure in a timely manner.
Football is the most popular sport, so the FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event. Although cricket is considered to be more popular in India, there has been explosive growth for football and hockey fans in the last 20 years. This is the first time, the matches are being held near India, which means more participation and spectators from India. So, I am sure many Indians will travel to Qatar to watch the matches. Given that we are the largest expatriate community in Qatar and we have a community organization called the Indian Sports Center, we are pleased to contribute in every possible way to achieving success in the 2022 World Cup.
– On the cultural level, what are the most important aspects of cooperation existing or proposed?
The year 2019 was celebrated as the “Year of Culture between India and Qatar”, and we have successfully organized more than 40 events in Qatar in cooperation with Qatari institutions. I am particularly pleased that these events have received an encouraging response from Qataris and residents alike.
Now as we move towards overcoming the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the Indian Embassy is preparing to restart activities in the fields of culture and art by bringing in teams and holding exhibitions on various topics including an exhibition on Islamic calligraphy.
As far as the educational and technical fields are concerned, I can add that there is a wide scope for cooperation between the various institutions in both countries. Three new Indian schools are expected to start operating in Qatar later this year, and an Indian university – Savitribay Fall Pune University is also expected to start operating in Qatar by the end of this year.
Our effort and focus will be on further enhancing the exchanges between faculty, students and youth between India and Qatar, there are so many hidden talents and innovative spirit waiting to benefit from them, our goal will be to identify this talent that can enhance knowledge-based economies.