PM Modi meets diamond traders in Belgium even as striking jewellers in India wait for audience

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Lakhs of jewellers may have been on strike against the central government’s decision to impose 1% excise duty on non-silver jewelleries and their repeated pleas have failed to elicit any desirable response.

Jewellers are also peeved that the Prime Minister has, so far, not cared to meet them to listen to their grievances.

Opposition parties have been mounting attacks against the prime minister, who, as chief minister of Gujarat, had slammed the UPA government for doing exactly the same. Many have even termed the Modi government anti-jewellers as suggested by twitter trend on Wednesday.

But, Modi on Wednesday showed just how concerned he was about jewellery industry particularly those trading in diamonds and living outside India.

Among his series of engagements in Brussels on Wednesday, Modi also held meetings with diamond traders of Brussels

He told diamond traders, “Diamonds are, of course, an old link between us. It provides employment to many in India.”

Almost 84 per cent of the world’s rough diamonds pass through Antwerp and the Belgian city is today the world’s largest diamond trading centre with a turnover of over USD 54 billion.

Indian traders own a large part of this diamond trade in Antwerp.

“Reflecting on the wide range of our engagements, PM says it is not just diamonds that can bring shine to our partnership!,” the MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in another tweet.

Modi, according to PTI, also spoke on the various aspects of cooperation such as renewable energy, science and technology, space research, IT, tourism, biotechnology, shipping and ports.

“I feel that a progressive path to India-EU Trade and Investment Agreement can enable all to benefit from India’s strong economic growth,” the Prime Minister said as he invited Belgian corporates and businesses to explore opportunities in India.

Recalling India’s historic links with Belgium, the Prime Minister said, “We have ties of blood with Belgium. 100 years ago 130,000 soldiers from India fought in Belgium and 9,000 made the supreme sacrifice”.

Modi’s visit to Belgium comes days after the March 22 terror attack here in which at least 32 people were killed, including an Indian, Raghavendran Ganeshan, who was an Infosys employee from Bengaluru.

The 13th India-EU Summit is being held after a gap of four years. The last summit was held in New Delhi in 2012 and negotiations remained deadlocked over several key issues.

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