Requested Lifting Of Ban On Tatra: PM Of Czech Republic Andrej Babiš
Babiš, who was on a two-day visit to India, said the lifting of the ban will open the road for further defence cooperation with India
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In an exclusive chat with BW Businessworld’s Manish Kumar Jha, Prime Minister of Czech Republic Andrej Babiš informed that he has requested PM Modi to lift the ban on Tatra — a Czech defence manufacturer. Babiš, who was on a two-day visit to India, said the lifting of the ban will open the road for further defence cooperation with India. During the visit, Babiš also called on President Ram Nath Kovind.
What did you discuss with Prime Minister Modi? Indian-Czech bilateral trade is just about $1.5 billion. How do you plan to take it further?
I have requested PM Modi to lift the ban on Tatra for further defence cooperation with India. Trade balance is one number but, of course, the strategy of India is to make in India. So, India wants our investors to come to the country and invest with Indian partners. Of course, it is not shown in the trade balance. Because trade balance is only about sales and purchase, so we are following the strategy. Just today (on 19 January), ŠKODA (Czech carmaker) has launched a new Technology Centre, which we have opened with our Indian partner. India is actually in fourth place in Asia in bilateral trade with the Czech Republic but there is a huge potential for increasing it, mainly in defence industry.
India is in talks with the Czech Republic for civil nuclear cooperation. Did you discuss it with PM Modi?
No, there were no discussions this time. We have an agreement in place and we are cooperating on it. Of course, for us the energy mix — nuclear energy — is very important.
What did you discuss with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when you met him in Gujarat?
We had concrete discussions. We discussed defence cooperation, the ban on Tatra, our investments in India, direct air link between Delhi and Prague, tourism and R&D cooperation, and so on.
So are we going to have a direct flight between Prague and Delhi soon?
I don’t know yet. Since our Czech Airlines is not in a good condition, we asked if it would be possible for Air India to start flying to Prague. This would promote exchange of tourists.
There is a Czech Industrial Cluster near Bangalore which promotes investment from the Czech Republic…
There are five to six companies but we are further negotiating for our companies to invest there.
What about defence cooperation with India?
We already have defence cooperation, but we would want that the ban on Tatra trucks is lifted. There is a long story behind the ban which doesn’t concern the active shareholders (of Tatra). I have sought the Prime Minister’s help on this at least, so that we can have more customers than today.