The two sides will meet again in India in the first half of 2024.
Modi visit: What was discussed in the Greek-Indian business quartet
Important prospects for strengthening the bilateral economic cooperation between Greece and India were identified during the working lunch, on Friday at noon, in “Great Britain”, between Greek and Indian businessmen in the presence of the Prime Ministers of the two countries, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Narendra Modi. The two sides will meet again in India in the first half of 2024.
Energy transition, pharmaceutical industry, tourism, financial sector and food were on the menu of the discussions held. The goal was officially set to double bilateral trade in a four-year horizon.
In 2022, it was set at 1.3 billion, i.e. lower than one euro per Indian resident, as characteristically reported to “K”, participants in the meeting .
In addition to the two prime ministers, the Minister of State Stavros Papastavrou, the Prime Minister's economic advisor Alexis Patelis and the Deputy Foreign Minister Costas Fragogiannis participated in the lunch, while among the Greek businessmen were the president of SEV Dimitris Papalexopoulos, the president of the Panhellenic Union of the Pharmaceutical Industry and co-directors ELPEN advisor Theodoros Tryfon, the president of the Shipowners' Union Melina Travlou, the head of TEMES Achilleas Konstantakopoulos and Eurobank Fokion Karavias, businessmen Evangelos Mytilinaios and Spyros Theodoropoulos, as well as George Peristeris and the secretary general of the Greek-Indian Chamber of Commerce Dimitris Melas.
As underlined, India is waiting for the conclusion of the negotiations with the European Union on the free trade agreement and was assured during the lunch that Greece supports the progress on this front. Greece also received the anointing of India's strategic partner, which so far only France and Germany have received in Europe.
Furthermore, it was agreed to examine the possibility of their employment in Greece, in sectors where they are presented severe shortages in manpower such as construction, Indian workers under interstate agreement. Special mention was made of the investment prospects of the Indian pharmaceutical industry in Greece.
In fact, the Indian businessman on the mission, Binish Chudgar, vice president of Intas Pharmaceuticals, which has already opened a unit in Athens, revealed that Greece was chosen after consideration of other European countries (Malta and Spain) as a place for the transfer of the of its activities from the UK after Brexit. In the next period, the number of people employed here is expected to increase from around 150 today to 500.
From the Greek side, F. Karavias revealed Eurobank's plans to open a branch (representative office) in India in 2024. Spyros Theodoropoulos, who is soon to open a new food production plant in India, invited the two prime ministers to the opening, while the prospects for further cooperation in shipping were explained by Melina Travlou. Srinivas Bommidala of GMR Group, which together with GEK TERNA is developing and will manage the new airport in Heraklion, Crete, expressed significant interest in the expansion of Greek tourism.
According to information, the prospect of an agreement with hotels in Crete in order to extend their twelve-month operation in order to host visitors from India was put on the table.
Regarding energy plans and India's transition to a greener economy, Evangelos Mytileneos asked and was informed that one of India's main goals is to achieve zero net carbon emissions from Indian trains – which carry hundreds of millions of passengers – by in 2030. The Indian businessmen also included Sanjiv Puri, head of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and chairman and chief executive officer of ITC Limited, one of India's leading diversified conglomerates.
Also present were Samit Mehta of Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Vikram Shroff of UPL Limited, a multinational that manufactures and markets agrochemicals, industrial chemicals and pesticides, Arun Garodia of India's export promotion body EEPC and Indian steel industry executive, and Harish Ahuja of the textile industry Shahi Exports.
In the discussion, which took place in a particularly heated climate, it was also agreed that steps should be taken from the side of New Delhi to start a direct air link between Greece and India.
Greece is the closest European country to India and now has the infrastructure to be a gateway for bilateral trade, most of the attendees also agreed.