India, Benin set up joint commission to boost bilateral trade

India, Benin set up joint commission to boost bilateral trade

"The economic operators of both sides need to take encouragement from the current bilateral trade and take steps to expand and consolidate. There is good possibility of increasing the bilateral trade along the existing areas," Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, who is here on a three-day official visit, said yesterday.

Benin's exports to India has grown consistently making it the third largest market with USD 106 million for financial year ended March 31, 2009 while Indian exports to the West African country stands at USD 203 million for the same period.

Tharoor, while inaugurating the first joint commission meeting between the two countries, also suggested new areas of cooperation like transportation, pharmaceutical, ICT, telecom, rural development, small and medium industries, agriculture and agro-based industry and human resource development.

"Benin's strategic economic location at the cross road of both coastal West Africa and Central Africa hinterland makes it a strategic base for supply and local manufacturing to such diversified markets as ECOWAS and Francophone Central Africa," the minister said.

Benin pledged its support to New Delhi's bid for a permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
Benin Foreign Minister Jean Marie Ehouzou also spoke of the "excellent bilateral relations" between the two countries and dwelt on the implementation of agreements signed during a meeting between Beninois President Boni Yayi during his visit to India in March.
India and Benin signed five agreements then covering issues like small-scale industries, cultural and scientific cooperation and diplomatic exchange.
The Beninois minister stressed on strengthening of the strategic partnership between private sectors of both the countries through respective chambers of commerce and industry.
Tharoor, who is handling Africa, the Middle East and Latin American affairs, will meet President Boni Yayi today after a flagging-off ceremony of Benin Railways, which runs Indian-made locomotives.
He is also scheduled to meet Benin's Transport Minister Nicaise Fajnon and Defence Minister Kogui N'Douro.