India and Brazil plan to increase bilateral trade five times to $10 billion (Rs40,000 crore) by 2010, the two countries announced on Monday, even as they agreed to concentrate on areas such as information technology, biofuels, engineering, and pharmaceutical research.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is currently in India, heading a delegation that includes 100 businessmen and industrialists. The delegation will meet its Indian counterparts, as well as government and political leaders.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Lula on Monday.
The two countries are part of the G-20, a coalition of 20 developing nations that they helped create, which lobbies against farm subsidies in developed nations. Brazil is already India’s biggest trading partner in Latin America.
India has previously signed a preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Mercusor, the Latin American trade bloc that includes both Brazil and Argentina. The agreement involves the import, by both sides, of several products, and is waiting to be cleared by the legislatures of Brazil and Argentina. Brazil had earlier said its legislature would ratify the agreement by June.
The approval of the PTA would help the cause of bilateral trade, commerce minister Kamal Nath said. “I hope that the PTA will help achieve the target of $10 billion two-way trade in years to come,” he added.
Nath was speaking at an event organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry, an industry lobby, in connection with Lula’s visit.
At the same event, he said that Indian exporters would feel the adverse impact of the rising rupee by July. He asked industry to suggest measures to counter the impact on export earnings from this.
“Export earnings are getting lower and lower and hurting the competitiveness of the industry,” Nath said. He added that despite this, the government is confident of meeting its export target of $160 billion in 2007-08. He said the government was considering several measures to help exporters.
Last week, Nath had suggested refunding some levies to exporters and on Sunday, commerce secretary G.K. Pillai had said in Chennai that the government would identify exporters who could need assistance, such as a tax refund, after a close examination of where the impact is being felt most.