India-Arab economic ties needs boost to match strategic ties: MEA official

The economic relations between India and the Arab countries have to be stepped up to match the strategic partnership and bilateral understanding at the political level, a senior MEA official said on Tuesday.

Sanjay Bhattacharyya, Secretary, Consular, Passport and Visa (CPV) and Overseas Indian Affairs (OIA) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said the key elements of India-Arab countries’ economic engagement are characterised by energy security, food security, human resource exchanges, growing trade and investment relations and strong connectivity.

“It is multi-faceted and extensive but the potential is bigger,” he said in his keynote address to FICCI on India’s engagement with the Arab world.

The key elements of our economic engagement are characterised by energy security, food security, human resource exchanges, growing trade and investment relations and strong connectivity, Bhattacharyya said.

“On energy security, 53 per cent of India’s oil imports and 41 per cent of gas imports come from the (Arab) region. India has stakes in oil blocks in Iraq, Syria, Libya, UAE, Yemen and South Sudan. The nature of the partnership has evolved from mere hydrocarbon ties between buyer and seller to participation in upstream & downstream projects, joint ventures in refineries and building of strategic oil reserves,” he said.

With both India and the Arab region engaged in reforms and transformational changes in the economy, the strong political understanding and goodwill between the people provides tremendous potential to take economic engagement to a higher level, he said.