India and Portugal Saturday announced a four million euros joint fund to bolster research in science and technology as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held in-depth talks with his Portuguese counterpart on cooperation in areas like counter-terrorism, space, climate studies and start-ups.
In a joint address to the media after signing 11 bilateral agreements, Modi and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who traces his origin to Goa, said the two countries have made substantial progress since Costa visited India in January.
The agreements signed on Saturday included cooperation in outer space, double taxation avoidance, nano technology, improving cultural ties, youth and sports, higher education, scientific research and setting up of a Portugal-India Business Hub and an Indian Chamber of Commerce here.
“The Portuguese economic rebound and strong Indian growth offer excellent opportunities for us to grow together,” Modi, the first Indian prime minister in Portugal on a bilateral visit, said.
“We are also determined to deepen our cooperation against terrorism and violent extremism,” he said and thanked Lisbon for its “consistent support” for India’s bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council and multilateral export control regimes.
Speaking on collaboration in cutting-edge technology, Modi announced the setting up of a joint science and technology fund of four million euros. “Our economic ties continue to follow an upward trajectory, and we can do more for the flow of goods, services, capital and human resources,” he said, adding that bilateral trade has grown 17 per cent in the past one year.
“We look forward to engaging with Portugal in the Atlantic International Research Centre, both in the Space and Ocean Science fields,” Modi said.
These pacts are expected to promote India’s ties with Portugal towards the establishment of a unique centre on the Azores Archipelago – the Atlantic International Research Centre, which will act as an innovation hub for trans-atlantic and north-south cooperation. The goal of the Centre is to provide a shared environment to foster new climate, earth, space and marine research.
With respect to space, cooperation is expected to include development and cooperation of next generation nano and micro satellites. On marine sciences, the project would enable India to study the atmospheric and ocean behaviour of the Atlantic and its linkages with weather patterns including the monsoon.
Modi also announced that India will set up a Chair for Indian Studies at the University of Lisbon and developing a Hindi-Portuguese dictionary. “I thank Portugal for sharing a digital version of 12,000 documents comprising exchange of letters between Goa and Portugal in the 17th Century. Portugal has emerged as one of the most vibrant ecosystems for entrepreneurship… Start-up sphere here is an interesting space for cooperation. It is a great means to generate value and wealth for society,” he said.
Modi said Portuguese Prime Minister Costa represents the best of the Indian diaspora across the world. Portugal has a large Indian-origin diaspora with the Indian community in Portugal estimated at 65,000. He also praised Indian films having a presence in the country. “Indian films are being subtitled in Portuguese and a Hindi-Portuguese dictionary is being developed for our mutual benefit,” Modi said.
Costa said India and Portugal “will make a great deal of progress in digital partnerships.” “A lot of work has been done in six months since I visited India. Great strides have been made in partnerships in economy, science and technology,” he said.
Relations between India and Portugal began amicably in 1947 after India’s independence and diplomatic relations were established in 1949. Bilateral ties, however, went into decline after 1950 over Portugal’s refusal to surrender its enclaves of Goa, Daman Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli on India’s west coast. But with the signing of a treaty in New Delhi in December 1974, bilateral relations were restored.