Minister of State for Commerce and Industry invites EU firms to invest in India

New Delhi, Feb.22: Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Dr E M Sudarsana Natchiappan has invited companies from the Nordic region and Central Europe to invest in India’s infrastructure sector.

The government had stated that conducive policy measures had now been put in place to promote the growth of this sector.

In his address, Natchiappan said the new industrial corridors and national manufacturing sones (NMZ’s) would provide several opportunities for Europe firms that were keen to invest.

According to Natchiappan, the government was also seeking to improve facilities at various Indian ports to improve access to the country. Another area of opportunity was agriculture and allied sectors, he added.

Joao Cravinho, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union to India, stated that the EU was currently on the path to recovery. He stated that growth prospects for 2014 were expected to be better than in 2013.

“Many of the countries in both the regions are members of the EU and by that virtue, these countries had access to one of the largest single markets of the world,” he said.

Cravinho pointed out that these countries represented 16% of the EU’s overall trade, but only 11% of India-EU trade. Therefore there was great potential for these countries to increase their trade relations with India.

He observed that once the India-EU FTA was concluded, these countries would also benefit from the same. They, in turn, would be able to accord preferential treatment to goods imported from India.

The envoy was confident about an FTA being concluded once the election process in India was over.

Deep Kapuria, Chairman, CII Regional Committee on Central Europe and; Chairman, Hi-Tech Group observed that the growth in bilateral trade between India and Central Europe has been robust despite the global economic slowdown.

He felt that there was enormous potential for collaboration in areas such as capital goods, ICT, green technologies agrotech among others.

Chandrasekhar Kakal, Chairman, CII Regional Committee on Nordics and Senior Vice President and Executive Council Member, Infosys Limited stated that bilateral trade between India and the Nordic region, which currently stood at USD 6.3 billion, was below potential.

He stated that sectors such as steel, pulp and paper, auto components, pharmaceuticals, IT and ITES, biomass, trade and tourism among others held enormous potential for growth.

The Minister released two studies conducted by CII on the occasion of the Conference. These included the CII-Avalon Study on ‘Accelerating Economic Engagement Between India and Nordic Region’, and the CII-Deloitte Study on ‘Trade and Investment Relations between India and Central Europe: A Study of Opportunities’.

During the session on Central Europe, ambassadors from the region highlighted the advantages of investing in the region. H E Dr Janos Terenyi, Ambassador, Embassy of Hungary highlighted that a major advantage of investing in Hungary was that it provided access to the EU.

In addition, Hungary provided a high level of education, world class infrastructure and a cost effective location for Indian businesses to operate in. H E Mr Miloslav Stasek, Ambassador, Embassy of the Czech Republic stated that his country offered 10 year tax holidays to investors in his country as well as tax incentives for employment generation.

He stated that his country was in talks with the Government of India to make the Czech Republic a hub for the Indian Pharmaceutical Industry.

Piotr K?odkowski, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Poland highlighted the extent of Indian soft power in his country. He pointed out that Bollywood films and the Indian advertising industry were using Poland as a location to shoot films.

Indian companies such as Infosys and U-flex had already set up operations in Poland. H E Ms Darja Bavdaz – Kuret, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia, stated that her country could act as a gateway for Indian companies to access other parts of Europe.

She stated that shipping goods to Europe via ports in Slovenia could work out to be more cost effective that shipping to ports like Rotterdam. H E Hon John Aquilina U.O.M, High Commissioner, High Commission of Malta stated that even though Malta was a small country, it held a lot of potential for Indian companies.

He pointed out that amongst its advantages, Malta was a member of the EU, Schengen and the Commonwealth and had a Westminster style democracy.

Addressing the session on the Nordic Region, Laimonas Talat-Kelpsa, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania stated that his country was renowned for its physical and broadband connectivity. Lithuania also provided two year tax holidays for investments in their country.

Gudmundur Eiriksson, Ambassador, Embassy of Iceland spoke of collaboration in the sustainable energy as well as ecological tourism.

Harald Sandberg, Ambassador, Embassy of Sweden highlighted that several Swedish companies were operating in India providing employment to over 6 lakh people.

He felt that sectors such as life sciences, power transmission and clean technologies held enormous promise for bilateral cooperation.

Eivind S Homme, Ambassador, Royal Norwegian Embassy felt that areas such as oil and gas, marine industry and telecom were potential areas of cooperation between India and Norway.

Lars Christensen, Counsellor, Embassy of Denmark, highlighted clean water and clean technologies as potential areas of cooperation.

Speaking at the session on Enhancing Economic Relations between India and Central Europe and Nordic Region Mr. Maurizio Cillini, Head of Trade and Economic Affairs, Delegation of EU to India, highlighted the importance of India-EU FTA.

He said that the FTA would provide market access to around 500 Million people of Europe.

Sangeeta Godbole, Director, Commerce and Industry, Government of India said that the last mile of India EU FTA is becoming difficult as the Government is committed to address the concerns of Indian industry. She also stressed the importance of Trade Facilitation Agreement that was signed during the recently held WTO Ministerial Conference at Bali, Indonesia.

Rahul Chhabra, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India described various similarities between India and the region. He informed the audience that the Hungarian tourism brochure starts with a quotation from Rabindranath Tagore. Ramayana and Mahabharata are compulsory at schools of Romania.

In conclusion, he said that the connection between India and Central Europe and Nordic Region is already there and that Indian companies need to take advantage of this linkage. (ANI)