SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE LUNCH HOSTED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE BRAZIL, H.E. MR. LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA
Brasilia, Brazil, 16th April 2008
Your Excellency President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and
Madam Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am overwhelmed by the warm hospitality with which we have been received by the Government and the people of Brazil. We are delighted and honoured to be in your beautiful country.
My visit to Brazil is the first overseas visit undertaken by me as President of India. This is a natural corollary to the growing strategic partnership between our two countries.
India and Brazil which have always cooperated closely in different multilateral fora are now engaged in the process of adding content and substance to our multifaceted relationship at the bilateral level. My talks today with President Lula have reinforced my conviction that our two nations have converging long-term political, economic, social and strategic interests. We have a common commitment to plural democratic governance and to the rule of law. We have a commitment to improve the lives of our people, to eradicate hunger, ignorance and disease. The Zero Hunger programme launched by President Lula is a remarkable step and reminds me of Gandhiji's call to wipe every tear from every eye. Our cultures are characterized by a tradition of tolerance and ethnic diversity. Our shared values provide a strong foundation to our growing ties. We are, thus, natural partners who share great similarities of views on many of the important global issues.
A significant result of the high trajectory being enjoyed by our bilateral relationship are the 37 agreements signed by us since the landmark visit to India by President Lula in January 2004 and the equally important visits by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in September 2006 and again by President Lula to India in June 2007. Today, we have signed additional agreements to further broad-base our ties and strengthen our partnership.
It is gratifying that the dynamism of the bilateral political and official exchanges has been captured by the business communities of both countries, imbued as they are with abundant entrepreneurial spirit. Our economic complementarities and synergies need to be purposefully developed to mutual benefit.
Our bilateral trade turnover in 2007 was US$ 3.12 billion. Our target is to achieve the level of US$ 10 billion by 2010. The high-level CEOs Forum co-chaired by Mr. Rata Tata on the Indian side and by Mr. Jose Sergio Gabrielli on the Brazilian side is engaged in drawing up a blue-print for enhancing trade and investment flows. Intense activity in the market place has led to the forging of close cooperation between ONGC Videsh Limited and Petrobras, expanding operations of Indian IT and pharmaceutical majors in Brazil and the establishment of the world's largest bus body plant by Marcopolo in the Karnataka State of India. An early ratification of the India-Mercosur Preferential Trade Agreement would undeniably facilitate the strengthening of our economic and commercial linkages.
Opportunities beckon in other areas of endeavour including agriculture, food processing, defence, energy, space, science & technology, agricultural research, education and culture. We must strive to transcend the geographical distance by improving air connectivity which would not only help us bridge the existing information gap but also serve to bring our peoples together. We should encourage our air carriers, both in the public and private sectors, to tap into the growing and lucrative civil aviation market. The cultural festivals to be organized by India and Brazil during 2008 would contribute in a major way to enhancing the mutual awareness of our respective cultures and ways of life.
India and Brazil stand for greater inclusiveness in global multilateral institutions. We believe that international relations must be democratized. Reform of the UN, particularly the UN Security Council, needs to be expedited in order to make the Council more democratic and reflective of contemporary reality. India and Brazil which are already working in close cooperation within the framework of IBSA have the potential to act as a bridge between the developed and developing countries and to act as catalysts for taking South-South Cooperation to greater heights.
Although realists claim that there are no permanent friendships but only permanent interests in the world order, India and Brazil have managed to defy the dictum by remaining permanent friends at various multilateral fora in the international arena. Our two countries are now assiduously engaged in the process of broadbasing our relationship and giving substance to our strategic partnership.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to invite you to join me in raising a toast to the:
- health and happiness of His Excellency President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the Federative Republic of Brazil and Madam Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva,
- prosperity and progress of our two peoples, and
- to the continued growth of our strategic partnership.
- to friendship between India and Brazil