The Forum's closing session marks the beginning of new talks and opportunities for cooperation
Spain and India may be very different countries, but they have several things in common. The potential for economic relations between the two countries remains untapped, and both offer great opportunities for cooperation in many industries, including the energy sector.
The closing speeches for the II Spain India Forum, focused on the energy sector, agreed on the need to maintain the talks initiated during the Forum and bring them to fruition in the future.
Spain India Council Foundation Chairman, Antonio Escámez, said he felt the Forum had achieved its goals: “Firstly, we sought to offer a platform for high-level dialogue and, secondly, to generate contact between qualified professionals from the two countries.”
Antonio Escámez said he hoped that “this Forum will generate links with multiplying effects. There is a lot of potential between the Indian and Spanish societies”.
Tejpreet S. Chopra, CEO of Bharat Light & Power and a member of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), said he was willing to “talk to industry and Government representatives in India to apply all we've learned” during the Forum.
Among the most interesting topics discussed at the Forum, the Indian entrepreneur emphasised Spain's ideal position as a gateway to Latin America for Indian companies, the gradual reduction in the cost of new technologies, which will benefit emerging markets such as India, the stability and environmentally-friendly standards that will impact the decisions of investment funds in the future, and the importance of increased energy efficiency in view of the rise in demand over the next few decades.
Within the energy sector, renewable energies represent a world of opportunities for Spain and India alike, according to Cristina Serrano, Director General of International Economic Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, who also emphasised the role played by Spain as a member of the European Union in supporting key initiatives such as the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and India.
Other industries such as tourism, transport, defence, security and smart cities offer multiple opportunities for cooperation between the two countries. “There is still room to reinforce bilateral relations,” stated Ms Serrano, who added that “a greater volume of Spanish investment is needed in India and vice versa”.
In their final remarks, the Ambassadors of India and Spain agreed on the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries and the need to increase exchanges, especially trade exchanges. The Ambassador of India, Venkatesh Varma, expressed his satisfaction with the presence of the Minister for External Relations and Cooperation, Alfonso Dastis, at the II Spain India Forum. “That in itself goes to show the importance placed by the Spanish Government on the relations between us and how much they care about the new international dynamics”.
Venkatesh Varma also praised the work of the Spain India Council Foundation to foster “interaction between players in various industries, in this case the energy sector. The Foundation has achieved that extremely effectively through this Forum” and its contribution, he stated, “has been extraordinary”.
The Ambassador of Spain in India, José Ramón Barañano, agreed with his Indian counterpart that the Spain India Forum “should be a starting point. This event has been highly effective, and a series of meetings are to be held because of it”.
“India and Spain,” added Venkatesh Varma, “have a lot in common energy-wise: both need to go abroad to access energy, both support restrictions to fight climate change, and all of this has been conveyed in the discussions held today”.
The Ambassador of India said he hoped that the journey initiated by the Forum would “move forward through individual contacts and institutional mechanisms. There are instruments we can use both at the administrative level and beyond”. Venkatesh Varma pointed at the cooperation with the Ambassador of Spain to India as “an example of the excellent relations between the two countries”.
For José Ramón Barañano, it is paramount for Spain to step up its footprint in Asia, and more specifically in India. “Our exports to India stand at 3.5 million dollars a day, and exports to China are 14 million. However, exports to Portugal (population 8 million) total 50 million a day”.
In his opinion, the Indian market (1.4 billion people) poses a challenge worth tackling. “Things that are worth it are never easy. This is a long-term investment. If Spanish companies want to be in India, they will have to think long-term”.
“There already are many Spanish and Indian companies working together”, he concluded. “Our goal as Ambassadors is to help out, but doing business is up to you”.