Austria discovers incentives of business with India

R Senthilnathan (IANS)

Vienna

Austria, one of the richest countries in the Europe, is discovering the economic incentives of doing business with India. A brand new flight service to New Delhi, campaign to attract the Indian super-rich tourists and visits to the sub-continent to promote business are strategies being used to tap the potential of the Indian market.

As if to emphasise the importance of India to the landlocked country, a high-level Austrian business delegation is expected to travel to New Delhi early November for a week of talks about increasing bilateral trade. The delegation, to be headed by Austrian Federal Economic Chamber head Leopold Maderthaner, will arrive in the capital on November 8 and will travel to Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune during its week-long visit, officials said. The aim of the visit is to express support to Austrian firms already there and those wishing to get involved in this interesting and large market, Mr. Maderthaner said.

This is Mr. Maderthaner's second visit to India within a year. "Our President does not visit countries two times a year," said one chamber official.

"It shows how important we consider India to be." Besides participating in the opening ceremonies of two Austrian firms, Mr. Maderthaner's 25-member delegation, which includes representatives of 15-firms as well as chamber officials, is also expected to have talks with local and national officials and entrepreneurs, said chamber's South Asian department head Gerhard Kernthaler.

Even though bilateral trade has been increasing in recent years, the amount looks quite meagre compared to the economic size of the two countries - a total of 3.7 billion schillings (about 300 million dollars) was exchanged between them during the course of 1996.

The trade has been in favour of India, with exports to Austria amounting to about 160 million dollars. However, statistics indicate Austria has been more keen in increasing its exports to India. Between 1995 and 1996 its exports to India increased by almost 28 per cent while India's exports to Austria increased only by a tenth.

Statistics show there is a clear trend in Austro-Indian bilateral trade. The major Indian exports are confined to textiles including clothing, carpets, fruits (the locals call them exotic fruits) and leather products like shoes.

Austrian exports to India is mostly on the heavy industry, the energy and the infrastructure sector as well as paper and it is highlighted by Austrian officials including Mr. Maderthaner.

Like in China, bilateral trade with India is also heavily dependent on new contracts from the Indian side, particularly on the infrastructure, metal, agro-industrial, chemical, transport and energy sectors, chamber officials said. Austrian companies prefer joint ventures - a method preferred by most western companies to tap local resources - or simply sell or lease out licences. (IANS)