Webinar on India-Central & East European (CEE) Countries
The Trade Promotion of India held an insightful webinar on “India-Central & East European Countries: Trade and Investment Opportunities” in collaboration with the Embassy of Czech Republic & Embassy of Romania, New Delhi, on September 23, 2021 at 3:00 pm IST. It is hardly a secret that India enjoyed excellent political, economic and military ties with Eastern and Central Europe during the Cold War period. The following three decades have also seen a consistent growth of the India-CEE bond. Today, India and Central & Eastern Europe are two significant geographical regions with respect to future global trade and investments point of view.
The CEE region is flourishing with niche capabilities in technology, defense, and IT sectors, thereby attracting India. Further, the Visegrád Group also known as the V4 countries (Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia) has emerged among the fastest growing economies in the European Union in the 21st century.
Countries in Central and Eastern Europe is important for India as it offers foreign companies access to the European Union’s markets but with lower operational costs than Western part of Europe.
At the same time, despite the pandemic, India is one of the brightest spots in South Asia, with its economy expected to grow by 7.2% in 2021, as per the latest UN projections. This makes it an attractive trade partner that the CEE countries just cannot ignore. India also has expertise when it comes to sectors like the IT & technology which can help build a meaningful synergy between them. Further, India-CEE region can be great trade partners especially for inelastic products like pharmaceuticals, textiles and footwear.
A point to note is that in 2020, the total imports of CEE region from world declined by 3.2% but its imports from India surged by 1% (even after pandemic year). Thus, India’s exports to CEE have risen steadily from US$ 5.20 billion in 2018 to US$ 5.31 billion in 2020. However, India’s imports from CEE dipped from US$ 4.66 billion in 2018 to US$ 4.01 billion.
One of the unique points to observe regarding India’s export basket to CEE region is that, it is uniform & equal for majority of exported products rather than skewed towards few top exported products. This signals a decent market acceptance for indigenous products. India’s top exported products to CEE region include medicaments, cellular phones, footwear, textiles, iron & steel products, pneumatic tyres, ceramic tiles & heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen.
Meanwhile, CEE’s exports to India include crude sunflower seed/oil, urea, coke & semi-coke of coal, spark ignition piston engine, oilcakes, gas turbines, and electrodes of graphite. The CEE region accounts for only 1.3% of India’s exports. While Indian investment is slowly growing — consider Apollo Tyres’ US$ 557-million investment in a Greenfield facility in Hungary in 2017 — it is still modest. Despite these constraints, the CEE countries appear keen to bolster business ties with India in agriculture, energy, transportation, cyber security, and information technology.
Therefore, there is phenomenal untapped potential that India-CEE can explore by advancing their military, cultural, economic and energy cooperation. This webinar dwelled on bilateral trade relations of the two CEE nations with India, trade opportunities available for Indian industries, possibilities of collaborations, ease of doing business, import-export policies of the government including trade barriers, untapped sectors, customs regulations and formalities, other issues relevant for industries of both countries.
- Scope of multilateral trade relations between India & CEE countries;
- Possible areas for investment and collaboration
- Ease of doing business
- Prospects of the ongoing talks for the India-EU BTIA
For this webinar, TPCI had an esteemed panel comprising of:
- HE Mr. Milan Hovorka, Ambassador of Czech Republic
- HE Ms. Daniela Mariana Tane, Ambassador of Romania
- Mr V.K. Gauba, Additional Director General, Trade Promotion Council of India
The session was moderated by Ms. Nikhaar Gogna, Executive Officer, Trade Promotion Council of India.