India and Qatar on Monday signed six agreements in diverse areas, including a pact on co-operation in oil and gas exploration.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani on a range of issues, including boosting trade and investment as well as energy ties between the two countries. Sheikh Hamad is on a three-day official visit to New Delhi.
The business chambers of India and Qatar also signed a pact to set up a joint business council that will promote two-way trade and investment.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI) signed the agreement on the occasion of Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani’s state visit to India.
“The two chambers have agreed to set up the joint business council in order to carry out more systematically business promotional activities in trade, investment, technology transfer, services and other industrial sectors,” FICCI said in a statement after signing of the agreement.
The joint business council will provide a regular and recognised forum for discussion on promotion of these activities between businessmen and industrialists of the two countries, it said.
FICCI president R V Kanoria and QCCI chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al Thani signed the agreement.
After the talks, India’s Petroleum Minister S Jaipal Reddy and Qatar’s Energy Minister Mohammed Bin Saleh al-Sada signed a pact on establishing a co-operative framework to enhance bilateral co-operation in oil and gas.
The oil and gas pact envisages co-operation in the areas of upstream and downstream oil and gas activities. It is expected to encourage and promote investment and co-operation between two ministries of oil and gas and through affiliated companies.
Qatar, which holds the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran, has an LNG (liquefied natural gas) export capacity of 77 million tonnes a year.
India buys 7.5 million tonnes of LNG from Qatar under a long-term contract. India imported 5.6 million tonnes of oil from Qatar in 2010-11 and is willing to increase the imports.
Three agreements were signed in the fields of educational exchanges, cultural contacts and promoting tourism. A memorandum of agreement was signed between the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Qatar Central Bank.
The pact will establish an arrangement for sharing of supervisory information and enhancing cooperation in the area of banking supervision.