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BUSINESS FOCUS - ASIA 1

A huge open market

INDIA has one of the largest economies in the world with around 300 million middle class people with potential purchasing power. This creates favourable conditions for international exporters to sell their products in this huge Asian country. Slovak companies might also take advantage of the opportunities that the Indian market offers in the form of infrastructure projects and joint ventures with Indian firms.

INDIA has one of the largest economies in the world with around 300 million middle class people with potential purchasing power. This creates favourable conditions for international exporters to sell their products in this huge Asian country. Slovak companies might also take advantage of the opportunities that the Indian market offers in the form of infrastructure projects and joint ventures with Indian firms.

The former Czechoslovakia was the third largest trade partner of India from the Eastern European countries. On the other hand, India became the third largest trade partner of Czechoslovakia in 1986 and was its second largest partner in Asia, after China, says the official web page of the Ministry of external affairs of India.

Due to the fact that Czechoslovakia split in 1993, leaving the Slovak Republic in a process of stabilisation, there has been a certain decline in overall Indian-Slovak trade during recent years. Additionally, the Indian economy only began to open to the world in 1991. Before this, the Indian economy and its whole foreign trade were centralised.

According to the Statistics Office of the Slovak Republic, in 2003 Slovakia exported €21.7 million to India and imported €40 million in goods. In the previous year, the overall exports of Slovakia to India totaled €32.2 million and Slovakia imported €41.1 million in goods from India. This makes up less than 1 percent of the overall Slovak foreign trade.

During the Slovak-Indian joint economic committee meetings in the 1990s, the two sides expressed concern over the stagnation of bilateral trade. A number of areas have been identified for bilateral cooperation, including steel, railways, engineering and construction, electronics, telecommunications, banking, tourism, oil and gas exploration, and mining.

In 2001 the committee qualified some other areas that could be of interest to the bilateral industrial cooperation: the oil and petrochemical industry, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the production of car parts and components for motor vehicles, the agriculture and food processing industry, and the textile and footwear industry.

"For Slovak companies there is enough room to discover [Indian] products that are needed on the Slovak market and, on the other hand, to export Slovak goods and technologies to India and thereby establishing joint ventures with Indian firms," wrote Hospodárske noviny daily.

According to the daily, India would most welcome the participation of Slovak companies in the modernisation of their power plants, infrastructure, and other construction projects. In the food industry there are possibilities for the establishment of plants for the production of juices from tropical fruits.

A successful example of such a venture is the Slovak coin producer Mincovňa, in the town of Kremnica, which, at the end of the 1990s, succeeded in winning an international tender from India and then proceeded to produce millions of Indian rupees in metal coins.

According to the web page of the Indian ministry of external affairs, there were plans for several Indian firms to establish business contacts and joint ventures with Slovak companies.

These included joint ventures for manufacturin crystal-ware in India, the finishing and marketing of textiles in Slovakia, and for the joint manufacturing and marketing of chemicals and pesticides, as well as the export of rice from India and containers from Slovakia.

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