Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Sept.15 (ANI): Making a pitch for India as an investor-friendly destination, visiting Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Wednesday said the modest level of economic ties between India and Cambodia needed to be broadened.
Addressing an India-Cambodia Business meeting here, President Patil said: "India-Cambodia economic relations are at a modest level, but there exists much greater scope for expansion. Total bilateral trade is approximately 50 million dollars, with pharmaceuticals being the dominating item of India's export basket."
"I am certain it is possible to expand the bilateral trade basket, which requires initiatives to create awareness among the business communities of the two countries about the quality and prices of exportable goods and import requirements," she added.
Recalling that India and Cambodia had started the process of economic liberalization almost together in the 1990s, Patil said the pace of economic growth in both countries has accelerated since then.
"Cambodia figured among an exclusive group of countries to achieve double digit growth in its GDP for a few years in a row, prior to the global economic crisis.... India is a trillion dollar economy and is ranked as the fourth largest economy in the world on the basis of purchasing power parity. India is a large, attractive and a growing market," the Indian President said.
Urging the Cambodian business community to make full use of the investment opportunities provided by India, she said: " Indian companies have invested overseas and are looking for opportunities to do more business. Frequent business interactions will help in identifying the many investment opportunities in mining, oil and gas, hydropower, infrastructure, tourism, among others."
Praising Cambodia for exploring ways to improve agriculture productivity, as well as to transform Cambodia into a rice basket and a key rice exporting country in the world, Patil said: "We welcome these initiatives of the Cambodian Government and I can assure that India would cooperate and share its experience with Cambodia in achieving this objective."
Indian experts could also be deputed to Cambodia under bilateral co-operation arrangements to take trade and investment opportunities in the agriculture sector forward, she added.
India, she said, also has a strong presence of small and medium enterprises.
"I believe Cambodia is keen to expand its manufacturing base to add value to its local agro-produce and also for other products to meet local demand. These sectors, along with IT and IT-enabled services, could be areas, which are worth exploring," she said.
"Cambodia's central location in the ASEAN region is useful as India seeks to expand its economic engagement with the region. We are also helped by the fact that for Indians, South East Asia is an important travel destination. I would like to mention that India-Cambodia tourism trade has tremendous potential for expansion. I am also told that a large number of Cambodian tourists travel to India for pilgrimage purposes. Such visits boost our tourism business and people- to-people contacts," President Patil said.
"There exists tremendous scope for developing trade and investment relations between India and Cambodia, which should be realized by business persons of the two countries that have deep civilizational links and a time-tested friendship, she concluded. By Praful Kumar Singh(ANI)