Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to address this Business Forum, in the presence of Her Excellency the President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca; His Excellency Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India; the Honourable Minister of State Shri Shiv Pratap Shukla; as well as members of the Indian and Maltese business communities.
Initiatives of this kind serve as a valuable platform, allowing commercial stakeholders from both sides to become more acquainted with the opportunities presented by our respective business environments.
India and Malta have shared an excellent rapport since formal diplomatic relations were established in 1965. Our two countries also hold strong ties through their cooperation and involvement in international organisations, such as the Commonwealth of Nations. Recent years have seen this relationship further strengthened through the inauguration of the Maltese High Commission in New Delhi and, only last year, the opening of the Indian High Commission in Malta.
In the meantime, several State and Official Visits have been exchanged over the years, also leading to the signing of a good number of cooperation agreements in the political, economic, scientific, and cultural fields, amongst others.
I had the opportunity to meet the Minister of State for External Affairs, His Excellency Shri M.J. Akbar, on no less than three occasions in the past year. Each meeting served to cement the excellent relationship that exists between our countries and has led to the identification of new ways of enhancing cooperation in a variety of fields.
One of these meetings took place last March, when I led a trade mission to New Delhi and Mumbai. The mission was made up of 21 delegates from 17 companies, operating in various sectors.
I am pleased to inform you that, since that visit, Maltese entities operating in the training and education sector have registered a substantial increase in enrolments from Indian students wishing to follow courses in nursing and health management, business management, and computing here in Malta. I am also aware that talks between other Maltese delegates and their Indian counterparts are in an advanced stage, and these could lead to cooperation agreements being signed in the coming months.
This renewed spirit of cooperation between us was also strongly evident during the fruitful meeting that I had the honour to hold in New Delhi, in March, with His Excellency Vice President Venkaiah Naidu. On that occasion, we discussed the spirit of reform and dynamism that has characterised the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Malta’s current economic boom was also one of the topics of discussion. In this respect, I acknowledged the important role that the well-integrated and thriving Indian diaspora has played in Malta’s success story through its positive contribution in many aspects of our country’s commercial life.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Trade with the least possible barriers is the only real way to achieve lasting prosperity and peace. International trade in goods, services, and capital underpins the global economy and has been the major driver of much of the development, reduction of poverty, and growth of the last decades.
Our history books are, regretfully, not devoid of examples of trade disputes escalating into armed conflict. If we look around us, it is evident that the bigger the trade between countries and regions, the less the probability of the trading partners ending up going to war. A clear illustration of this is the European Union, for the Member States of which – bound together as they are in a mutually beneficial single market – war as the shortest route to hegemony and affluence has become practically unthinkable.
India and Malta have clearly signalled their commitment to maintain the momentum that has been generated in a bid to strengthen our bilateral trade ties. In so doing, while ensuring benefits for our respective countries, entrepreneurs, and citizens, we are seeking to be part of a global solution rather than part of the problem.
Today’s Business Forum opens new doors to cooperation at different levels. We eagerly look forward to witnessing the results that will emerge from these exchanges.