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August 27, 1998


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Hegde downplays sanctions, asks Turkey to invest in India

Union Commerce Minister Ramakrishna Hegde has said that India did not expect a fall in investment because of the sanctions imposed on it after the nuclear tests conducted by it in May.

''Contrary to most expectations, the impact of international sanctions has not been significant,'' he said in a message to the organisers of the 67th Izmir International Fair, which opened in Turkey on Wednesday.

''Undoubtedly, the restrictions imposed by the multilateral financial institutions are detrimental but not unmanageably so,'' he said.

He pointed out that key projects with humanitarian and agricultural dimensions had not been subjected to sanctions.

''Being confident of our strengths and our attractiveness to investors, especially in the current international economic situation, we are not apprehensive of a fall in investment,'' he said.

Hegde urged Turkish businessmen to take advantage of the vast investment opportunities becoming available in India, especially in its infrastructure sector.

He pointed out that India had managed to attract substantial foreign direct investment in recent years.

''Unfortunately, Turkey does not at present figure among these investors but I'm sure that the Turkish companies, especially those in the construction sector, will soon take advantage of the vast opportunities in the Indian infrastrucutural sector,'' he said.

''Likewise, Turkey is an opportunity area for Indian businessmen, both as a market in itself and as a route to Europe and Eurasia,'' he pointed out.

Hegde could not attend the opening ceremony of the fair and his message was read out by Indian ambassador to Turkey R M Abhyankar.

India is the ''guest country'' at this year's fair. More than 30 Indian companies are participating in the fair through the India Trade Promotion Organisation.

A 14-member Indian delegation is also currently in Izmir city for the third session of the India-Turkey Joint Business Council. The delegation will also meet Turkish President Suleiman Demirel tomorrow.

The events have been coupled with an Indian food festival and shows by an Indian folk dance troupe and are taking place ahead of Indian President K R Narayanan's visit to Turkey next month.

During his visit, Narayanan will present an elephant to Izmir in recognition of the honour given to India at the fair and the important place that the city held in the Turkish War of Independence and in Turkey today.

The Izmir fair is the premier industrial exhibition in Turkey and has attracted more than 1500 companies from 30 countries this year.

Hegde said the honour given to India at the event was an appropriate recognition of the historic commercial and cultural contacts between the two countries, their common commitment to democracy and secularism and the tremendous potential for bilateral economic relations.

He said the Indo-Turkish Joint Economic Committee will hold its eighth session in Nw Delhi by the end of the year.

While bilateral agreements on avoidance of double taxation and on shipping have been signed, an agreement on bilateral investment protection will be signed shortly, he said.

''We expect that this will stimulate interest among investors in both countries,'' he said.

Hedge said both countries were working towards the goal of $ 1 billion in bilateral trade, set by Demirel during his visit to India in 1995.

The present turnover in trade is $ 345 million. The value of Turkey's imports from India constitutes a mere 0.63 per cent of its global imports and Indian imports from Turkey amount to just 0.15 per cent of its global imports.

Hegde noted that both countries had embarked upon similar programmes of economic reform, liberalisation and globalisation. He gave details of the achievements made by India since the reforms were launched in 1991.

''The size and affluence of the Indian middle class, which is capable of buying anything that the world has to offer, and the size of the Indian market as a whole, have been the mainstay of the reforms and the reason for sustained international interest in the Indian economy,'' he said.

He hoped the Indian participants at the fair, many of whom were already active in Turkey, would capitalise on the opportunities created by the event.


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