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Narendra Modi's four-nation tour: A primer on ever cordial India-Spain relationship

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a four-nation tour of Germany, Spain, Russia and France with the aim of boosting India's economic engagement with these countries.

The Ministry of External Affairs states that Modi will travel to Spain on 30 May for the official visit.

On 31 May, he will meet President of the Government of Spain Mariano Rajoy and discuss bilateral relations between the two nations. Modi is also scheduled to meet King Felipe VI of Spain. He will then go on to have a round-table interaction, called the India-Spain CEOs Forum, with leading Spanish business leaders to invest in India as part of his 'Make in India' initiative.

As Modi posted on his official Facebook page, there is significant potential for deepening bilateral trade and investment ties. Infrastructure, smart cities, digital economy, renewable energy, defence and tourism are some of the many sectors that can see India-Spanish cooperation. Combating terrorism will be another keystone discussion between the leaders.

With Spain, India has enjoyed cordial relations ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1956, which were initiated with the opening of the Spanish Embassy in New Delhi, followed by accreditation of our High Commissioner to London as Ambassador to Spain in 1958.

 Narendra Modis four-nation tour: A primer on ever cordial India-Spain relationship

File image of Mariano Rajoy and Narendra Modi. Image courtesy: narendramodi.in

The economic ties between the two nations are particularly noteworthy. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, bilateral trade between India and Spain in 2016 stood at $5.22 billion, while India's exports to Spain stood at $3.83 billion.

Spain's exports, on the other hand, stood at $1.39 billion, meaning that India has a trade surplus with the nation. The key export items to Spain from India are organic chemicals, textiles and garments, iron and steel products, automotive components, marine products and leather goods.

Meanwhile, the imports are machines and mechanical appliances, vehicles and automobiles, plastic products, electrical appliances, rubber and rubber products and olives/olive oil. Spain also happens to be the 12th largest investor in India with $2.32 billion in foreign direct investments.

MEA adds that over 200 Spanish companies have subsidiaries, joint ventures, projects or liaison offices and purchase offices in India. There are also over 40 Indian companies in Spain, the most significant ones being in the areas of IT, energy, automobiles and pharmaceuticals. Indian investment in Spain stands at $800 million euros. Modi's trip to this European nation aims to further strengthen this economic bond.

Culture has also been a highlight in the two nation's diplomatic ties. Last year, the 'Festival of India', sponsored by Ministry of Culture, presented an array of events in Spain during 2016: Ranging from Indian dance and music to literature and theatre. The third International Day of Yoga was also conducted Spanish cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Valladolid and Canary Islands 18 to 25 June, together with seminars related to Ayurveda and Sanskrit.

India has the third largest Asian diaspora in Spain, with over 55,308 immigrants. MEA reports that the consular wing of the Indian Embassy processed 5,380 passports, 1,185 Overseas Citizen Of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) applications and issued 35,857 visas for Spain in 2016.

As an Economic Times piece reports, Modi will be signing the 'Agreement on Cyber Security' to tackle cybercrime and countering violent extremism, especially in light of ransomware like Wanacry affecting computers globally.  There are also quite a lot of agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) pending between India and Spain. Many of these MoUs could be signed during this trip. Here is the list as of 13 April, 2017.

  • Agreement of Visa Waiver for holders of Diplomatic passport
  • Agreement on remunerated employment for dependents of members of a diplomatic mission or consular post
  • Agreement on the Transfer of Convicted Persons
  • Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
  • Twinning Agreement between the cities of Ahmadabad and Valladolid Agreement on Social Security
  • MoU on Bilateral Co-operation in the Field of Organ and Tissue Procurement and Transplantation
  • MoU on Technical Cooperation in the Field of Aviation
  • Cultural and Educational Exchange Agreement
  • Agreement on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Trafficking in Illicit Drugs, Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances and Precursors Chemicals
  • Agreement on Cyber Security
  • Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Degrees
  • MoU on Renewable Energy
  • Cooperation in Customs Matters
  • Additional Agreement on R&D (cooperation in the field of Defence)
  • Technical Agreement on Sharing of White Shipping Information
  • MoU on Cooperation between Diplomatic Academies
  • MoU on Smart Cities
  • MoU on Tourism

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Updated Date: May 29, 2017 19:54:27 IST