Positive growth forecasts for 2021 and recent developments in the region may help Qatar-India bilateral trade return to its pre-Covid-19 levels this year, according to India’s top diplomat in Qatar.
Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal said bilateral trade between Qatar and India grossed to almost $11bn in 2019. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, trade figures between both countries stood at almost $7bn from April to November 2020, “which was still a good growth despite the health crisis,” he stressed.
“We hope that in 2021, as we could come out of the Covid-19 limitations, we should regain our original figures of 2019 because in India we’re seeing already that our manufacturing sector has returned to normal levels as growth and demand are back to pre-Covid-19 times,” Mittal told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the launching of ‘India Fest 2021’ held on Sunday at LuLu Hypermarket, Al Gharafa.
“Now, we feel that we would be able to go back by this financial year. By the middle of 2021, we would be able to go back to full pre-Covid-19 levels. By this year, India should see a growth rate of about 7% to 8% and this bodes well for both India and Qatar,” the ambassador continued.
With major goods exchange comprising energy, electric products, food and beverage (F&B), chemicals, textiles, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, Mittal said India was among the top three export destinations for Qatari products in 2020.
“We have a very strong Qatar-India construct, strong relations, a robust trade and investment ties. Both countries are looking how to diversify, and we have a very strong relationship in terms of energy,” Mittal said.
“Aside from energy, why not look at diversifying the basket and see how both countries could complement each other in other sectors, such as food security and healthcare, which are the two topical needs of Qatar and India.
“These are among the efforts for both sides on how to introduce new elements that can promote diversification of trade and other ways to achieve value for money, high-quality, and sustainable initiatives,” he continued.
The ambassador also lauded LuLu Hypermarket for featuring the wide variety of Indian products during the week-long ‘India Fest 2021’, particularly Indian cuisine, which, according to him, “would connect people from Qatar to India’s rich and diverse food culture.”
“Another aspect that was uniquely showcased in this festival is the organic products coming from India, such as spices, pulses, flour, cotton for clothing, aside from the fruits and vegetables on display during the event,” Mittal explained.
While ‘India Fest 2021’ is simultaneously celebrated throughout the GCC, Mittal noted that the event is unique in terms of introducing new elements to Qatar’s diverse community and the people of the host country.
“LuLu has been a strong ambassador of Indian products, not only in Qatar but worldwide; LuLu brings that strength in terms of food security here in the country. They have been participating in that national vision and we feel proud of this as LuLu is a ‘Brand India’ in itself,” Mittal stressed.