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Bilateral relations heading forward every single field

bilateral relations heading forward every single field

bilateral relations heading forward every single field

In an interview with Diplomacy & Beyond, H.E. João da Camara, Ambassador of the Embassy of Portugal in India, discussed a wide variety of topics including longstanding relationship between Portugal and India and way ahead. Here are the edited excerpts…

  1. Excellency, starting with this interview, please throw some light on your stay in India so far.

It has been a fascinating journey both personally and professionally. This last year and a half made me realize how lucky I was to be posted in India.

  1. Portugal and India share an excellent political relationship presently. Be it the support for India at multilateral fora, including for a permanent seat at the UNSC or other platforms, Portugal has always been an ardent believer in this relationship. Where do you see the bilateral relations heading forward?

We see bilateral relations heading forward in every single field. The visit of the Portuguese Prime Minister to India in the beginning of this year started a process of political dialogue at the highest level that is now becoming institutionalized and permanent. Under this umbrella many other dialogues are now underway in different areas.

We expect also a growing interest from our entrepreneurs in making business with each other and to explore new opportunities in the Portuguese and Indian markets.

Culture is another area where we have been advancing our bilateral agenda and where we see a lot of potential.

  1. Chief guest at the 14th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD), held earlier this year, the prime minister of Portugal Dr. Antonia Costa had expressed immense pride on his Indian origin. Do you think such a great example helps bringing both countries further close?

Yes, the fact that Prime Minister António Costa has Indian origins and is proud of them is of course a valuable asset for our relations. For our Prime Minister India is not just another country. And for India PM António Costa is not just another Prime Minister.

  1. Bilateral trade and commerce have been growing steadily over the years but still enough potential remains untapped. How do you see this unfolding over the years?

We are already watching more Portuguese products in India and also more Indian products in Portugal. But even if the numbers of our bilateral trade are indeed increasing they are still quite modest. It is still very difficult to access our respective markets. It would help to have a free trade agreement and we hope to have negotiations on such an agreement starting soon between the European Union and India.

  1. After the UK and the Netherlands, Portugal is home to the third highest population of persons of Indian origin in Europe. How do you see this?

We are a very welcoming society for people who want to live peacefully amongst us. And the fact is that the Indian community in Portugal is an example of integration, hard work and friendliness. We have Indians and people of Indian origin in all levels of society, from CEO’s of big companies to owners of small businesses, from workers to high ranking officials. I presume they feel well in Portugal and that is why they are growing in numbers there.

  1. How do you see Portugal making inroads into the Indian economy making use of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s grand initiative – “Make in India?”

We have already a few Portuguese companies investing in India and many more interested in doing so. India has in fact a lot of arguments to attract foreign investment and Portuguese companies are seeking opportunities that will arise from the initiative Make in India. It would help nevertheless to have an agreement to protect investments both in India and in Portugal and that could offer guaranties to a future investor. We had such an agreement until it was revoked recently by the Indian side and we hope that the conclusion of another one can be included in future negotiations between the E.U. and India as a matter of urgency.

  1. Sir, share a message for the readers of Diplomacy & Beyond magazine.

Portugal has a long history of relations with India. We know each other since a long time and our interactions produced, among other things, populations of mixed origins, both Portuguese and Indian. This is really the biggest asset we have to project our relations in the future.