India eyes Pacific potential
India on Thursday said that an increased economic cooperation with Pacific Island countries will diversify the country’s bilateral trade and investments in energy, mining and other sectors. “The Pacific Island countries are generously endowed with natural resources. India would be happy to work with them in harnessing their mineral, marine and hydrocarbon resources,” President Pranab Mukherjee said addressing heads of states of the south Pacific region in New Delhi. India is hosting the 2nd Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) Summit to be held in Jaipur on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also attended the first summit held in Fiji in November last year. The regional bloc has 14 members — Cook Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Niue, Palau, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. China is also trying to join hands with the group having huge mineral resources. The President on Thursday said that India’s cooperation with the Pacific nations will boost investments opportunities for the government as well as private players in various sectors. “Government of India and private sector are keen to strengthen and diversify bilateral trade and encourage investments in fisheries, agriculture, oil and natural gas, mining and water desalination,” Mukherjee said in his welcome address. Addressing the delegates who reached New Delhi on Wednesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also underlined the need for greater partnership and sharing expertise in the field of technology and innovation. “India also urges the Pacific Island countries to forge a global partnership to harness technology, innovation and finance to put affordable, clean and renewable energy within the reach of our countries, Swaraj said. During the first FIPIC summit, India had announced an increase in its annual grant-in-aid to the Pacific islands countries from $125,000 to $200,000 to cater to the key developmental priorities of the region. The annual bilateral trade between India and all 14 Pacific countries is estimated to be around $300 million, of which India's export is worth around $200 million.
August 20, 2015 | 2:12pm IST.