From terrorism to tourism, and EU-India relations to the signing of several Memoranda of Understanding, the packed agenda of constructive bilateral talks between Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion, Carmelo Abela, and Indian Minister for External Affairs, M. J. Akbar, illustrated how cooperation between the two countries was deepening, fulfilling its potential.
The official visit by the Indian minister materialised after Minister Abela led a sizeable TradeMalta delegation to New Delhi and Mumbai in March, following the intensification of relations between the two Commonwealth countries during the past year, which saw the first-ever Indian High Commission open in Malta earlier this year. “India’s diplomatic presence in Malta was a very positive move, and a very clear demonstration of its commitment to further strengthen the ever-growing ties between our two countries. Malta is as committed to this relationship as India is,” said Minister Abela.
He thanked Minister Akbar for concluding an agreement that helps strengthen methods of cooperation when it comes to the fight against terrorism, acknowledging the unique position the Mediterranean has when it comes to this issue. “Being south of Europe and north of Africa makes us uniquely placed for trade. It is not just about migration,” said Minister Abela.
The Minister also welcomed the progress made by India on its relationship with the EU, advancing and enhancing this long-standing relationship for the benefit of both, plus bringing the EU-India Strategic Partnership to its full potential, maximising trade opportunities.
Trade partnerships between Malta and India were highlighted, especially tourism, from sightseeing trips to weddings, and the making of Bollywood films in Malta. “Our geographical position makes increasing trade cooperation with India possible, especially if we become a transhipment hub in the Mediterranean.”
The Commonwealth was also discussed in detail, with both ministers agreeing they had a crucial role to play within the Commonwealth. “Malta is especially grateful for India’s support with respect to the setting up of the Commonwealth Trade Finance facility,” Minister Abela stated, while commenting on the setting up of the Commonwealth Small State Centre of Excellence, providing Minister Akbar with an overview of the work being taken forward, in particular the capacity-building courses for public officials from small states.
Other areas of mutual interest discussed included banking-for-all, economic growth, an MoU on diplomatic training between MEDAC and the Foreign Service Institute, and health. “Malta needs to collaborate with India in the field of recruitment of health care professionals,” Minister Abela said.
They also agreed that sustainable policies should be prioritised, with both countries supporting international efforts aimed at bringing cleaner, greener, more affordable, renewable and sustainable energy into all homes.
Minister Carmelo Abela concluded the meeting by thanking Minister Akbar and his delegation for their visit, and saying that Malta is looking forward to Indian Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu’s visit in September, when an MoU will be signed on the transport and infrastructure between Malta and India’s Ministry of Shipping, “yet another important and timely opportunity to consolidate our countries’ bilateral relations.”