Cotonou: India and the West
African nation Benin have set up a joint commission to boost
multi-sectoral bilateral co-operation between the two nations
to expand and consolidate their trade ties.
"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
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
He is also scheduled to meet Benin`s Transport
Minister Nicaise Fajnon and Defence Minister Kogui N`Douro.