Doha and New Delhi should explore possibilities of a natural gas pipeline and Qatar could be India’s “strategic food reserve”; according to Suresh Prabhu, India’s Sherpa to the G20 and a former Commerce Minister.
"One area that needs to be refocused is how to get natural gas into India through the pipeline (from Qatar)," Prabhu told a webinar hosted by Doha Bank.
Highlighting that the efforts should be to explore ways in a manner that is beneficial to both the countries; he said there should be negotiations in price in such a way that it could meet the energy requirement; while not affecting Qatar's coffers too much.
Prabhu's call regarding this comes in the wake of India's ambitious programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
India currently has almost two-third of its electricity generation from thermal, and gas addition can reduce the coal output and will lead to lower emissions, he said, adding sourcing more natural gas from Qatar to India will be a win-win for both the countries.
Highlighting that Qatar and India can work bilaterally on food security, he said just as India's energy security is important, food security of the Gulf is far more important.
"India could create a hub in Qatar so that we can have strategic food reserves in Qatar. We can have meat, dairy, marine, agri and horticulture products exported to Qatar and make it strategic reserves," he said, reasoning this made sense in a time that has seen disruptions to trade and supply chain.
Suggesting that Qatar look at India' pharmaceutical sector, the investments in molecules would have far higher returns than those from the US treasury papers, where interest rate is near zero.
"The investment in pharmaceutical sector can be a game changer," Prabhu said.
Atul Punj, chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry National Committee on Construction and chairman, Punj Lloyd; said construction industry accounts for 40% to 50% of India's capital spend.
In order to attract Qatari capital, India needs to set up a contract regime which is universal in nature and time-bound dispute resolution, whereas for the Indian companies to participate in Qatar’s construction it has to have best in class services, supply of labour and manpower, he said.
In the infrastructure sector, high end real estate development and affordable housing are the key areas where Qatar can invest in India.
Chandrakant Salunkhe, founder and president SME (small and medium enterprises) Chamber of India, said Indian SMEs and Doha Bank work together to establish their presence which makes them competitive.
In this regard, Doha Bank chief executive Dr R Seetharaman said together they can explore mezzanine financing and partially guaranteeing debt.