India to focus on cooperation in oil, gas sector with Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan
New Delhi, April 9, (IRNA) India's Minister of State for Commerce, Jairam Ramesh is leading a multi-sectoral Indian delegation to Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan from April 10-16, 2007 to boost bilateral economic relationships covering both investment and trade.
In Baku, Ramesh will sign the first-ever agreement with Azerbaijan for establishing the India-Azerbaijan Inter-governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation.
Along with the managing director of ONGC Videsh, he will also pursue India's interests for oil and gas exploration in Azerbaijan, said an official release issued here Sunday.
ONGC Videsh has identified some promising prospects which it would like to develop, Azerbaijan having re-emerged as a major oil-rich country with the commissioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline that links Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and is the world's second longest oil pipeline connecting rich Caspian Sea oil reserves with the Mediterranean Sea.
In Tashkent, Ramesh will chair the Seventh Session of the India- Uzbekistan Intergovernmental Commission.
Accompanied by senior officials of GAIL, Ministry of Petroleum and National Gas, he will pursue with the Uzbek government the projects identified by GAIL for investment in Uzbekistan in petrochemicals, LPG and city gas distribution.
ONGC Videsh is also interested in investing in gas fields in Uzbekistan.
In addition, Ramesh will review the status of implementation of the MOU signed in November 2006 between the Uzbekistan government and the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council of India (TEXPROCIL) for enhancing cooperation in the cotton textile sector.
The public sector State Trading Corporation is also exploring a dlrs 10 million investment in Uzbekistan for cottonseed processing.
An Indian private company Spentex has already acquired two cotton spinning factories in Uzbekistan investing close to $ 80 million.
For both Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, Ramesh is also accompanied by senior officials of the Department of Commerce, Ministry of External Affairs, Culture, Petroleum and Natural Gas and Science and Technology, and business delegations from FICCI, CII and the Indo-CIS Chamber of Commerce in case of Uzbekistan.
Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan are countries with which India has had long and deep historical and cultural ties extending over millennia.
The historic Silk Route connected the three countries and apart from Islam, both Zoroastrianism and Buddhism are common threads.
Over the past few years, India has been taking determined steps to build a close economic relationship as well.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had visited Uzbekistan in April 2006 and Mani Shankar Aiyar had visited Azerbaijan in June 2005.