India, Italy to boost agri trade, investment

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, January 16: | Updated: Jan 17 2008, 01:50am hrs
Italy and India agreed to boost bilateral trade, investment and technology transfer in agriculture.

In the field of technology transfer, Italy would help setting up of agri food parks in the country with a period of 18 months. Both sides agreed to work out the issue of food quality standards for boosting trade. A food testing laboratory with Italian technical assistance would be soon set up in Kolkata.

"Italy has offered to import marine products, poultry meat, milk and durum wheat from India and in return wants to export wine, processed food, meat, coffee, agri processing machines and post harvest technology, said the Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar after a MoU was signed between the two countries on agri food sector on Wednesday.

The MoU was signed between the visiting Italian minister for agriculture, food and forestry policies, Paolo De Castro and the Indian minister of state for food processing industries, Subodh Kant Sahai in the presence of Pawar. The MoU also proposes creation of a joint foundation for exchange of know how and technology. The MoU is for five years and thereafter subjected to automatic renewal for another period, if either party has no objection.

De Castro said : "Italy is an important market for Indian agricultural products almost accounting for 200 million Euros." He said that India needs to lower its high tariff barriers to give access to Italian products and added that Italy was interested to increase its agri food exports to India to 100 million Euros. De Castro's remarks are significant when India is planning to have a free trade agreement with the European Union.

He recalled the cementing of relations done at the time of the visit of the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi to India in February last year and said : "I am here today for the start of a new dialogue a political and economic level discussion between the two countries."

In the course of the discussion, Pawar raised the issue of stringent sanitary and phytosanitary measures implemented by Europe in trade which has denied access to Indian products. Both sides agreed to work out the issue.

The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy also signed a MoU with FieldFresh Foods Pvt Ltd at a business workshop organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Emilia-Romagna region is know for production of farm machinery, post-harvest technology and food processing machninery.