Bombay, 30 October 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov is due to depart India today, ending a visit aimed largely at promoting trade ties.
Stoyanov arrived in New Delhi on Sunday. Early in the week, he attended the signing of three bilateral trade agreements, including one to promote and protect investments. Stoyanov has been accompanied by a Bulgarian business delegation that included representatives from the defense industry, as well as the wine industry, electrical engineering and fashion sectors.
At a meeting this week organized by Indian businesses and attended by Stoyanov, India's Federal Minister for Agriculture Som Pal said the two countries have possibilities for trade and industrial cooperation in a number of areas.
Pal said Indian companies have shown keen interest in creating vineyards with Bulgarian assistance, and in developing India's wine industry, with Bulgaria providing necessary technology.
Pal also said India has expressed keen interest in obtaining a supply of chemical fertilizers from Bulgaria. This could be through trade, or by establishing joint ventures with private companies, or by participating in the privatisation of Bulgarian manufacturers of chemical fertilizers.
He said other areas of mutual interest, including possible joint ventures, could be in power engineering, textiles, tourism and agricultural equipment.
Pal suggested that food processing was another area where joint ventures should be encouraged. He said this area offered immense opportunities because of growing markets in both countries for processed food products. And he said dairy-based foods have significant potential in India in view of the fact that India is today a leading producer of milk.
Pal went on to say that India could help Bulgaria in increasing its production of wheat, while India would be interested in buying Bulgarian oilseeds.
India also possesses considerable expertise in industrial design and consultancy, especially in mining, steel and railways, Pal said. He pointed out that Indian Railway's cargo container group IRCON has already shown keen interest in a big railway project in Bulgaria.
There is also an immense scope for the manufacture in India of cars and computer software with Bulgarian assistance, Pal added.
President Stoyanov also spoke at the meeting. He pointed to Bulgaria's recent economic stabilization, saying that several years ago it would not have been wise for foreign businessmen to invest in Bulgaria. That has now changed, he said, and he issued an invitation to Indian businessmen to invest in his country. Stoyanov said that in the future, Bulgaria as a member of the European Union could act as a gateway to Eastern Europe.
Gueorgui Tchernev, Chairman of the Bulgarian-Indian Joint Business Council (JBC), said that Bulgarian companies wanted to use opportunities for bilateral trade and cooperation to increase the Bulgarian-Indian trade turnover. He said this had decreased recently, so the aim of the JBC was to find ways of developing the two countries' economic relationships.
(Sue Tapley is an occasional contributor to NCA.)