Belgrade, September 15: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday said that India and Serbia have much to benefit from a closer economic partnership and two sides can collaborate in various sectors such as agriculture, food processing, defence manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, tourism, entertainment, infrastructure and information technology. Speaking at the India-Serbia Business Forum, Vice President Naidu underlined the economic transformation, various reforms and fresh opportunities in India for Serbian entrepreneurs.
He said that India is aware of Serbia's potential as an emerging economy and its transformation over the last few years has been remarkable. He added that some major fiscal and structural reforms were undertaken by the government have resulted in significant improvement in the economic situation and business environment of Serbia and it is fast emerging as one of the leading investment destinations in Central Eastern Europe.
He mentioned that Indian economy, growing at around 8 per cent, is one of the fastest growing major economies of the world and there are a lot of opportunities for Serbian business houses. "Over the past half a decade, we have managed a positive swing in stock market indices, foreign exchange reserves, public investment in infrastructure and welfare measures. Government investment in infrastructure development has increased exponentially and it is already visible in the improved railways, roads, airports and shipping infrastructure, addressing one of the biggest deficits in our country," Vice President Naidu said.
He added that the government is committed to building a five-trillion-dollar economy by 2025, making India the 3rd largest consumer market in the world. He highlighted that India has climbed 42 places in the World Bank's Ease of Business Index over the past two years and is committed to improve it further.
"We are strengthening the manufacturing sector through the Make in India programme while our services sector remains robust and high-tech. We have also moved up 21 places on the Global Innovation Index of the WIPO in two years as well as 19 places on the Logistics Performance Index of 2016 of the World Bank. We have seen a strong global confidence in the India story with a surge in Foreign Direct Investments which reached over the USD 62 billion in 2017-18. We have a TRIPS-compliant IPR regime and our multi-party democracy ensures essential stability and predictability," Vice President Naidu said.
Talking about various reforms, Vice President Naidu said demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) have enabled India to emerge as a transparent, modern and unified market, tax base and its compliance have been enhanced and there is a 30 per cent increase in tax collections. He mentioned various flagship programs launched by the government and said the scale and scope of these programmes are of continental proportions and entirely in line with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Terming the recent examples of foreign investment as a new positive development, Vice President Naidu expressed appreciation towards the Government of Serbia for extending support to the Indian entrepreneurs who have sought business opportunities in Serbia.
"An Indian company has acquired a major Serbian tractor manufacturing company. This can contribute to the production of high-quality agriculture machinery in Serbia at an affordable cost and certainly help Serbia's agriculture sector. An Indian company has established an IT park in Serbia. India's strength in IT sector is globally renowned. Serbia can also benefit from India's capability of producing high quality, lifesaving drugs at a cost within the reach of common Serbians. Serbia also has strength in some areas of defence production. Since India now permits participation of Indian private sector and even foreign companies in defence production and defence procurement, the private companies of both sides can join hands and benefit from India's liberalised policy," he said.
Talking about tourism, Vice President Naidu said Serbia, with its fascinating history and landscape, has the potential to attract Indian tourists. "Serbia abolished visas for Indian nationals visiting Serbia. This move is an extraordinarily generous gesture taken by Serbia to demonstrate how important it is to break barriers and promote globalisation. We have also extended e-Visa to Serbian nationals to facilitate tourism and trade between our two countries," Vice President Naidu said.
He also urged the business community from both countries to chart out a roadmap for the future economic cooperation which would be instrumental in elevating bilateral relationship to a new height.
The India-Serbia Business Forum was organised by Serbian Business Chamber and the Confederation of Indian Industries. It was also attended by President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic.