A coming together of like-minded countries – Spain and India

The recent visit of our Prime Minister to Spain was planned not only to revitalize the Indo-Spanish relationship but also to improve bilateral ties, commerce and attracting foreign investment. I had the good opportunity of joining the business delegation that accompanied the Prime Minister and it was a very important moment for me to represent our country’s economic interests as the Co-Chair of the India-Spain CEO Forum.

India and Spain have shared a warm and cordial relationship ever since the diplomatic relations were established six decades ago in 1956. The Spain of today plays a central role in shaping the future of European Union along with other powerful European nations. Because of its demographic advantage, economic might and its location at the crossroads of Europe and North Africa, Spain has emerged as a major influencer with an active stance on various issues facing the world. India has global ambitions and Madrid has the potential to be an important hub for India’s supercharged growth agenda.

The two countries have very striking similarities, both the economies are performing exceptionally well and are led by decisive leadership. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister, India has embarked on a new journey with initiatives like Make in India, Clean India, Green India, Digital India, Skill India, Startup India, making India an attractive partner in Asia. The Indian market itself and the growth momentum it has achieved under the current government is equally lucrative with the youth dividend playing out beyond 2030.

The CEO Forum will serve as a bridge between industry and the governments of both the countries to work closer together. The presence of top CEOs from both the countries as Forum members would add needed operational vision for them to undertake harmonized efforts for realizing cooperation in developing new and innovative areas of collaboration, 12 CEOs of large corporate groups from India and 10 from Spain were present. The Forum has submitted a report on various themes and actions that both the government take jointly undertake.

The key opportunities lie in the sectors of infrastructure, auto, energy (especially renewables), water & waste management, digital, defense, agro and food processing which together account for almost 60% of the total volume of FDI flows between India and Spain.

Trade between the two countries presents a major opportunity for mutual growth and benefit with a potential to grow nearly 7 to 10 times over the course of the next five years from about €7 Bn. today to ~€51 Bn. by 2022. The CEO forum, in its discussions noted the fact that by leveraging the complementary strengths of both the countries, we both can act as global hubs, to expand to other global markets.

Although, the Forum has submitted our joint report to the respective governments, however, I would like recommend some more aspects. To continue the momentum India and Spain should conduct a Business Summit in New Delhi within the next six months. To remain focused on our agenda, we should further create sector specific forums. There should be a proactive bilateral participation in the upcoming Food Summit in India in November, 2017 and the Indian side should work closely with Spain for the simplification of regulatory process in the pharmaceutical sector to open it up the Spanish market for the Indian Pharma companies.

In the coming days we will also be proactively working towards establishing the connect in education, tourism, healthcare and cultural linkages.

I would like to thank the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, and Hon’ble President of Spain, His Excellency Mariono Rajoy, to constitute the first formal meeting of Indo-Spain CEO Forum. I also would like to thank the Spanish co-chair Mr. Fernando Abril-Martorell and the CEOs who represented both the countries. My sincere thanks to FICCI and CAMARA, the two leading trade bodies of India and Spain who put this activity on a mission mode. A great beginning has been made and it is on us to continue the momentum and value creation.