Austrian money not yet music to Indian ears
By Shilpa Puri
Austria-the home of Western classical music and one of the 10 richest countries in the world in terms of per capita income-is about 40 times smaller than India in size.
Notwithstanding its economic wealth, foreign direct investment from Austria to India has been, traditionally, low. Until 1991, when FDI from the East European nation rose to Rs 1.52 crore largely due to the opening up of the Indian economy. In 1999, this figure stood at Rs 32.67 crore.
Since then, trade ties between the two countries have been on the upswing. In November 1999, India and Austria expanded their economic relations by signing agreements on avoiding double taxation and bilateral investment promotion and protection. Both these agreements are expected to come into force in 2002.
Josef Mayer, Austrian Vice Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Labour, while identifying various sectors for economic cooperation between India and Austria, stated that India could take advantage of Austria's expertise in sectors like railways, energy and tourism. Other sectors like environment protection, water technology, wastewater treatment, hydropower and healthcare were identified as possible areas of cooperation. The two countries have also established a Joint Working Group under the Indo-Austrian Joint Economic Commission to evolve the modalities for intensifying cooperation in hydropower.
India usually has a trade surplus with Austria (ATS 591.4 million in 2000). Imports from Austria, which mainly comprise machines, chemical products, transport, mineral products, metals, paper etc., stood at ATS 1,600.7 million last year. Exports from India valued at ATS 2,192.1 million in 2000 consisted largely of garments, textiles, leather goods, machines, coffee and chemical products. Interestingly, Indian exports to Austria are routed via Germany. The Indo-Austria Business Forum (IABF) has been registered under the Indian Companies Act as a non-profit organisation to reduce delivery time of exports to that country.