(MENAFN - Arab Times) The large volume of trade between Kuwait and India, which reached 500 million in 2012 in non-oil goods, proves historical and deep-rooted relations between the two countries, Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) board member Fahad Al-Jouaan said on Sunday.
"India is one of the biggest economies globally as it enjoys many preferential qualities and natural resources, as well as its development in technology and information field," Al-Jouaan added in a press statement on the sideline of his meeting with an Indian trade delegation, in presence of India's Ambassador to Kuwait Satish C. Mehta.
He mentioned that investments of Kuwaiti private sector in India are "historical" and there are many bilateral agreements between KCCI and its counterpart in India for organization of these investments and joint cooperation in many areas.
On the goal of the Indian delegation's current visit, Al-Jouaan said it is to offer many goods and commodities that can be imported from India to Kuwait, especially gravel, marble, and wood which are highly demanded by Kuwaiti market due to prosperity of the local construction industry.
On his part, Ambassador Mehta indicated the Kuwaiti-Indian trade volume in financial year 2011/2012 has reached around 17.65 billion, adding that his country is among the big five exporting countries to Kuwait.
He added that the Indian embassy in Kuwait aims at boosting bilateral economic relations and trade exchange development by organizing ongoing meetings in India and Kuwait, affirming at the same time the embassy's strive to improve the level of trade exchange between the two countries into better levels, especially since India is the closest geographically to Kuwait than other major international economies.
Meanwhile, India's finance minister last month unveiled a national budget with a promise to put Asia's third largest economy back on a path of high growth and to trim the fiscal deficit.
Palaniappan Chidambaram told Parliament that attracting foreign investment was crucial to reversing India's economic slowdown and getting the nation back to fiscal health. Reducing the budget deficit meant the government had no choice but to cut spending, he said.
The budget foresees total expenditure of 16.65 trillion rupees (306 billion) in the fiscal year that begins April 1. The finance ministry forecast the fiscal deficit to decline to 4.8 percent of gross domestic product from 5.2 percent expected in the current fiscal year.
Among measures to boost revenue, the minister announced a temporary tax hike for the "super rich." The 42,800 people with annual income over 10 million rupees (186,000) would pay the additional tax for one year. He also hiked taxes on imported luxury cars, high-end motorcycles and yachts, all of which have become symbols of affluence among India's upper classes. Cigarettes, cigars, mobile phones and SUVs would cost more, as would dining at expensive restaurants, Chidambaram said. Big companies would pay more tax to boost government revenue.
The budget comes against the backdrop of a downhill slide in India's economic growth from earlier levels of 9 percent. The economy is projected to grow about 5 per cent this fiscal year ending March, far below the 7.6 per cent growth projected in last year's budget and prompting calls from economists for an increase in the pace of economic and financial reforms.
The government, led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has over the past two years tried to push through legislation to ease restrictions on foreign investment and allow international retailers to open supermarkets here. But it has faced stiff resistance from opposition politicians, who shut down Parliament over the issue, casting doubt on the government's ability to execute reforms. Last week, India's trade unions and bank employees unions held a country-wide strike to protest economic reforms.
Singh hailed the new budget, saying India "should get back to 8 percent growth in 2 to 3 years." The finance ministry has forecast growth of between 6.1 percent and 6.7 percent in the new fiscal year.
Chidambaram announced a marginal increase in defense expenditure with the budget for safeguarding the country increased to 2.03 trillion rupees (37.7 billion). The budget has a provision of 867.4 billion rupees for India, the world's top arms and defense equipment buyer, to purchase new defense equipment in the next fiscal year.
With the country headed for general elections in 2014, government spending on costly social programs was projected to go up substantially. The budget has assigned 100 billion rupees for an ambitious food security program.