SICF's Chairman, a representative of the CII, the Ambassadors of both countries and the Secretary of State for Energy at the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda took part in the opening session
Spain and India will have the chance to generate substantial synergies in the field of energy over the coming years, according to Spain's Minister for External Affairs and Cooperation, Alfonso Dastis. In his opening speech at the II Spain India Forum, the minister emphasised the “significant efforts” made by Spain in this sector and India's ambitious plans to reach 175 GW of renewable energy capacity for 2022.
Alfonso Dastis stressed the important role of the Forum and stated that its conclusions would “shed some light and allow us to identify needs, share experiences and maybe even undertake joint projects”. The Minister added that these conclusions would be “integrated into our strategic thinking and the planning of our foreign actions for the coming years”.
According to Mr Dastis, India, “which is already one of our main political and economic partners in Asia, will play a crucial role in furthering Spain's political and economic impact on the rest of the world”. He also emphasised that India and Spain have “a close affinity in terms of their understanding of the main global governance issues and a growing number of shared interests in all areas”.
The excellent ties between Spain and India were also mentioned by the Ambassador of India to Spain, Venkatesh Varma, who believes that Narendra Modi's recent visit to Spain has opened a new chapter in relations between the two countries.
“Our countries are on the same side; we share the same ambitions. Spain is now looking to Asia and we want you to consider us a partner,” said the Ambassador.
Venkatesh Varma stated he would like more Spanish companies to go to India and, likewise, more Indian companies to choose Spain as their European base. He mentioned the growth of the Spanish economy in the past few years and encouraged Indian companies “to go to Spain and partake in that growth. Spain offers the same as other countries in Europe, only more efficiently,” he said.
The Forum took place at Madrid's City Hall and the Mayor, Manuela Carmena, expressed her satisfaction with the selection of Madrid for the event. She also took the chance to remind the attendees of the strong ties between Madrid and Delhi: in August 2016, Madrid hosted the Indian Film Academy Awards gala, which was watched by 841 million people. The Mayor also mentioned the opening of a direct flight route between the two cities, operated by Air India, at the end of last year.
During the opening session, Spain India Council Foundation Chairman Antonio Escámez emphasised the support given by the governments of the two countries to the Forum: “Our goal is for this Forum to become a platform for high-level dialogue between Spain and India.”
Mr Escámez pointed to the need to “reflect on our bilateral relations” after the celebration of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations last year, and six months after the Indian Premier visited Spain.
Additionally, SICF's Chairman highlighted the importance of the energy sector, which is “considered strategic by the two countries and is a field in which we can cooperate”, particularly in light of Spain's position as a world leader in the development of renewable energies.
Spain's expertise in the sector was yet another of the highlights mentioned by the Secretary of State for Energy at the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda, Daniel Navia, who explained that “much of our experience can be of use in the challenges that India will face in the coming years”.
According to Mr Navia, Spain and India “share a fundamental goal: the fight against climate change and the chance to turn that fight into an economic opportunity”. Technological development plays a key role in the energy sector, and he stated that “many technologies are well-positioned to be competitive”.
Mr Navia emphasised the outstanding capacity Spanish companies boast in fields like renewable energy generation, electric mobility, energy efficiency and improvements to electricity transmission.
This capacity could be tremendously beneficial for India, according to the President and CEO of Bharat Light & Power and Member of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII, co-organiser of the Forum), Tejpreet S. Chopra. “We need them to be able to face all the challenges ahead,” he said.
In his opening remarks, Tejpreet S. Chopra emphasised the intense programme of economic reforms initiated by the Indian Government, designed to facilitate business and open up new sectors to foreign investment. “Indian industry is very hopeful thanks to the government’s strong reform programme,” he said. He also drew attention to the performance of India's electricity sector in the past few years and said he considered India to be “a land of opportunity” for Spain.