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"Mr President, economic analysts are of the opinion that, by 2015, India, which is considered to be an ‘Asian tiger’, will have become the fourth most powerful economy in the world. India will therefore become a strong counterbalance to China in trading terms. In the first quarter of this year, the rate of growth of the Indian economy increased to over 9%. As it moves on from being a developing country and comes to be recognised as a developed one, India is aspiring to catch up with China and take the lead in Asia. We should, therefore, attach particular importance to trade relations with India. The European Union is already India’s main trading partner. Trade with Member States of the European Union accounts for over 22% of exports from India. India’s industry has risen to global challenges and welcomes science-based development as a business strategy. The large numbers of young, well-educated Indians who are cheap to employ and speak competent English represent a great asset to their country. They should become an advantage in terms of our bilateral relations. There are other factors, however, that the Union ought to draw to India’s attention. Over 390 million Indian citizens are living on less than a dollar a day and the statistics for child labour in India are amongst the highest in the world. This has to change. The war on poverty must become a key feature of the strategic partnership between the European Union and India. We should also strive to ensure that India is better represented at the IMF. In addition, it would be appropriate to launch an initiative aimed at drawing up a free trade agreement with India. This would strengthen our strategic trading partnership for many years to come. Mr Karim has drawn up a good report that deserves our support."@en1

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