Marching towards inclusive and sustainable development, providing increasing employment opportunities to the skilled resources, and trying to convert the state into a manufacturing hub armed with new opportunities, West Bengal is showcasing its business-readiness to the global investors.
The two-day long 3rd Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS 2017) brought together policy makers, corporate leaders from around the globe, delegations, academia, opinion makers to explore business opportunities, forge partnerships and collaborations with a slogan, ‘Come to Bengal, Ride the Growth’. With demonetisation playing its game of throne behind the scene, BGBS 2017 called its curtain with an announcement of a remarkable INR 2,353 billion investment commitment floated on the floor.
Thanking international delegates from 29 countries for attending the summit and making it a ‘super success’, the West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee sent out a clear message to the global business world: “If you chose Kolkata (Bengal), you can develop industries in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, northeastern Indian states as well as Bihar and Odisha. You can also do business easily with Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia and Maldives. If Bengal is chosen, half of India is chosen.”
Elaborating on the sector-wise investment possibilities, CM Banerjee gave the following break-up of the major sectors to the packed closing plenary: Manufacturing – INR 618 billion; Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) – INR 507 billion; Urban Development – INR 466 billion; Transport – INR 388 billion; IT & Telecom – 185 billion; Power & NES – INR 36 billion and Mining – INR 16 billion.
She refrained from divulging any further detail of these investment opportunities knocking at Bengal’s door, but was only happy to share that China-based TEB Technology has committed an investment of INR 270 billion for an elevated mass rapid transit project and Korea’s Handdong University has signed a MoU with the state-owned HIDCO to set up an intelligent and green city. She also informed the audience that global think-tank, Horasis CEO, Frank Jurgen Richter has said that their next Asia conference would be held in Kolkata this year.
“Japan will speed up the process of Howrah-Yokohama partnership. Germany’s textile major Orlinkon Barmag said they are looking for European funds. Once they get it, they will set up a textile machinery plant in the state,” added West Bengal finance minister, Dr Amit Mitra, at the closing plenary.
The last day of the summit also saw some high-voltage academic sessions with the city seeing for the first time a ‘silent conference’ at such a large scale with everyone geared with a headset. Parallel sessions covered subjects like maritime, inland waterways, civil aviation, transport infrastructure, auto & auto ancillary, defence, sports goods manufacturing, SME vendor development, mining, energy & energy equipment, chemicals & fertilisers, food processing, horticulture, fisheries, agro & allied industries, health, education, skill development, IT & IT-enabled services, urban development & infrastructure, sports infrastructure, financial services, legal services, hospitality, tourism, business of entertainment and startups.
Russia came with a 35-member delegation including 17 food and beverage companies. The delegation leader, Pavel Borisov, Export Project Manager of Russian Export Center commented, “We are happy to underline that we have some results. The mission of our coming to Bengal was to push Russian-Bengal trade relations. Other than a strong focus on food processing, we also want to explore joint venture options in infrastructure and chemical projects as the market will be huge. West Bengal is a developing region in India and there are not too many foreign countries working here. With a strategic geographic advantage and a big sea port coming up soon, we see West Bengal as a good choice to do business with, not only with other Indian states but also with many neighbouring countries.”
Interestingly, the state is charting new territories with Bhor Sagar Deep Sea Port coming up at Sagar Island and Amritsar-Delhi-Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC), an ambitious project spanning across seven states of India that will be beneficial for 20 cities within these states.
Amidst such an optimistic environment, while answering a question about the immediate challenges Bengal has to overcome, Bruce Bucknell, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Kolkata replied, “I think the challenge is in infrastructure, but more so in perception. When people think of India, it is always Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. But, the scenario is always changing. With GST in place all over India, West Bengal will find more investments. Certainly, the message is getting out to the world that Bengal is on the move.”
Hence, moving forward, the schedule of the 4th summit has already been announced (Jan 16-17, 2018) and the government is determined to make it bigger and better.