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Speech by Minister Lipavský at the India – Europe Business and Sustainability Conclave
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Speech by Minister Lipavský at the India – Europe Business and Sustainability Conclave

 

New Delhi, February 28, 2023

Minister Jaishankar, Minister Rasmussen, representatives of the Confederation of Indian Industry, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for the invitation to visit India and to speak at this important forum. This is the first time I am visiting India as the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs and the fourth time I am meeting Minister Jaishankar in the past year. This frequency of our contacts demonstrates our mutual interest in strengthening bilateral relations between India and the Czech Republic in all areas.

Let me also thank the Confederation of Indian Industry for hosting today´s conference. I am accompanied by several members of the Czech Parliament from the Foreign Affairs committee, including its Chairman Mr Marek Ženíšek, and a delegation of representatives of companies from the Czech Confederation of Industry, your partner organization. I hope their meetings with the local partners will initiate new business projects.

India has traditionally had a prominent place in Czech foreign policy and our trade relations. The Czech government´s policy statement mentions India among the democratic partners in the Indo-Pacific with whom we will be deepening our relations. The EU-India relationship gains on importance. India is becoming the most populous country of the world and its remarkable economic growth predestines your country to become the third largest economy before the end of the decade. We do recognize this fact and we do recognize the role India is playing for the stability on the Asian continent and in world politics.

Looking at the topics you will be discussing during this Conclave, they have been long-term priorities for the Czech government. They were among the horizontal priorities of the recent Czech Presidency in the Council of the European Union, they are part of the Czech Republic´s Strategy for Cooperation with the Indo-Pacific and they relate to the ongoing Czech engagement in the UN Economic and Social Council.

Of course, our EU Presidency primarily had to address the Russian aggression in Ukraine. The European Union denounced this aggression unanimously and resolutely, and it keeps supporting Ukraine in every way. At the same time, however, we continue working with our Indo-Pacific partners in the important agendas you are to discuss today and tomorrow. Let me touch upon them briefly.

The Czech Republic wishes to contribute to the post-covid recovery in India and the Indo-Pacific region. Our companies have competence in a whole spectrum of solutions, in manufacturing and supplying medical devices, in medical technologies, healthcare services, or pharmaceuticals. We see a good potential in cooperating with Indian partners in telemedicine, in microelectronics or optics. The Czech companies have delivered turnkey projects in the Indo-Pacific region that serve as a reference. The Czech Academy of Sciences has a joint project of six institutes whose goal is to establish European Centre of Excellence in biomedicine and biotechnology. Both of these areas are relevant to mention here in India.

We wish to focus on science, research and innovation in the broadest sense, which covers everything you will be discussing. The transition to clean energy is an opportunity to strengthen the cooperation we started during the Czech EU Presidency in environment protection, in green and smart solutions. The global energy crisis, induced by the Russian aggression in Ukraine, has accentuated the need to diversify our energy mix and to work for strengthening the resilience of our partners in the Indo-Pacific. Clean energy transition is a key to this goal and India is a crucial partner in the region for us. We can succeed together elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific as well.

I mentioned the Czech government´s policy statement and I should like to refer to another of its chapters: digital transformation and digital services. India´s investment in ICT in the Czech Republic, the strong presence of Infosys, is a great example of our joint efforts so far. Cybersecurity must go hand in hand with digitalization and we are interested in enhancing our bilateral dialogue on cyber security, cybercrime, and hybrid threats.

Another topic on your Conclave´s program is food productivity. We saw the Russian aggression in Ukraine causing significant disruptions in exports of grain from Ukraine, as well as food and fertilizers from Russia. It did not only translate into the increase of price of fertilizers but also the price of rice, especially affecting the consumers in Asia. It calls for us to focus on food security and to strengthen our value and supply chains. In this context, I would like to mention the use of EU space programs. Their navigation and positioning tools with the data and services offered by EU Earth observation program Copernicus can be used to improve food security and make agriculture in general more efficient and sustainable. As we have shown during the Czech EU Presidency in cooperation with the Indo-Pacific partners, the EU space programs are helping in disaster risk reduction. The Czech Republic has a well-developed space segment in research and academia, as well in private sector.

We are supportive of secure, predictable and reliable supply chains and this stands behind our interest in working closer with India. It is up to each company to choose its supplier or business partner, but our role as governments is to create an environment that is favorable to businesses and investments, especially in removing all kinds of trade and administrative barriers.

Within the European Union, the Czech Republic, as a textbook case of an open market economy, dependent on foreign trade, traditionally belongs among the advocates of free trade and, just like during our EU Presidency last year, we will continue to be vocal supporters of negotiations of Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and India.

One of the sources of Czech pride and reputation in the world is the Czech education system and our universities. With India, we will intensify the cooperation between universities and research institutes, as well as scientific mobility, but we are focusing on employment agenda too. India is one of the countries included in the Czech government’s programs of targeted economic migration, successfully realized since 2019, and the annual quota for employment cards stays valid, while preventing human capital flight.

You will discuss smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0 and since I represent a country with traditionally strong industrial base and innovation potential, I wish to assure you that we are interested in mutual exchange of experiences in this domain. Czech companies are offering solutions in smart cities, waste to energy and clean technologies. We are offering our solutions and experience, including the preparation of legislation, and we are attentive to the experience and specific needs of our partners in bio-circular-green (BCG).

I think I have covered most of the topics on Conclave´s program. Lastly, I wish to mention mobility. Strong and traditional references already exist in the relations between our two countries. Let me just mention Jawa motocycles and their partnership with Mahindra group, Škoda Auto that produces locally in line with your government´s strategy “Make in India”, or Tatra trucks that have India as one of the biggest client in the world. The Czech Republic is interested in offering new solutions for the city and inter-city mobility transportation, especially in rolling stock segment. Czech investors are already producing wheelsets and their parts for all types of rolling stock here in India.

Let me invite the present Indian business representatives to visit the Czech Republic and find new business opportunities with their Czech business partners. Thank you for your attention and I wish your Conclave every success.

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