The fourth edition of Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS) 2018 was held on January 16 and 17, 2018 at the newly constructed Biswa Bangla International Convention Centre located in Newtown, Kolkata. The global investor’s summit was organised by the Government of West Bengal under the leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and on whose invitation, almost every major business tycoon attended the summit and pledged big investment support to boost the industry in this eastern state of India.
Bengal Means Business
The forward-looking policy regime, transformative reforms in ease of doing business and the facilitative entrepreneurial environment in Bengal has been the driver in attracting the attention of investors from India and across the wold to Bengal, said the officials. Advancing from the theme of Come to Bengal and Ride the Growth, this year the underlying theme has been – “Bengal Means Business.”
Significant absence was noticed from Government of India despite invitations being sent thanks to the recent rifts at the political level barring any of the ministers from attending the summit. Keeping a political undertone, the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: “I appreciate Maharashtra as it is the financial capital of India. But the state is exhausted now. Invest in other parts of the country and invest in Bengal as it has the potential. Bengal has a strategic location as it is the gateway for ASEAN countries and north-east India. Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan are our bordering countries. There are a lot of opportunities. As Ambani said, Bengal is number one state in terms of ease of doing business. Despite the misrule of 34 years, we are trying our best to take the state forward. There is no pressure, discrimination and intimidation here. There is only love and affection for business. I can assure one thing that Bengal will not deprive anyone. We love the unity of the country and we love tolerance.”
Japan, Italy, Poland, Germany, Republic of Korea, Czech Republic, Great Britain, France and the United Arab Emirates were partner countries in this year’s Summit. The perceptional change about Bengal was visible from the participation of delegates from India and abroad who expressed their business interests in Bengal – 400 international delegations from 32 countries participated in this year’s summit.
Deputy Foreign Minister from Poland, Vice Governor from Jiangsu province of China and Vice Governor from Jeollanam-do Province of the Republic of Korea, officials of NRW Region, Germany and DG of JETRO were present to understand and explore the market of West Bengal.
Business & Statistics
The summit saw a culmination of an integrated effort on the part of all departments of the Government of West Bengal, Chambers of Commerce and their international offices and the Consular Corps of countries, resulting in a total of 110 MoUs and expressions of interest towards investment proposals of INR 2,199.25 billion. Around 1,046 B2B (business to business) meetings and 40 B2G (business to group) meetings took place during the two-day event, attended by reputable firms from various sectors based out of India and abroad.
Sector Proposed Investments (In Billion INR)
Manufacturing & Infrastructure: 1,568.11
MSME & Textiles: 529.52
Hospitality & Tourism: 14.83
IT & ITES: 11.46
ARD, Food Processing, Fisheries & Agribusiness: 15.18
Health, Education & Skill Development: 60.15
Big Ticket MoUs
- MoU on mining, power and several other sectors signed between Government of West Bengal (Department of Power & NES) and Government of Poland (Silesian Region)
- Department of Power & NES and GIZ (Germany) towards an Energy Action Plan for West Bengal
- Jadavpur University signed three MoUs for collaboration in various fields with – Exeter University, Edinburgh University and Eotvos Lorand University
- Presidency University with Edinburgh University in the area of Higher Education & Life Sciences
- West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation with National Institute of Design for setting up State Design Center in Kolkata to open new frontiers in cutting-edge technologies
- Department of IT & electronics with DQ Entertainment for Animation Academy, with S.A.P. on Blockchain technology for land ledger, with Fujisoft for reskilling youth in the field of cloud computing, ubiquitous computing and emerging technologies
- Triburg, Impulse & SQNS International to set up apparel buying hub in Paridhan Garment Park
Notable multi-national companies including Dassault, Aramco, DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Center), Samsung, Pepsi Co, Covestro, Chemixil expressed their business interests in Bengal. Amongst the India based firms, Reliance, Future Retail, Jaipuria Group, Adani Group, JSW Group, Hiranandani Group, Kotak Group, SpiceJet Group and many more companies participated in the summit and expressed their investment intentions.
The Tycoons’ Line Up
The summit saw the attendance of who’s who of Indian business fraternity and possibly all the names and surnames that matter! The list included Mukesh Ambani, Lakshmi Mittal, Sajjan Jindal, Kishore Biyani, Uday Kotak, Sanjiv Goenka, Harshavardhan Neotia, Dr Jyotsna Suri, Saroj Poddar, Chairman, Y K Modi, Mayank Jalan, Dr Niranjan Hiranandani, Pranav Adani and went on. From Mukesh Ambani pledging to invest INR 50 bn and calling it Best Bengal to Sajjan Jindal opening a cement plant in Salboni, the awe of the state was doing its round. It is now time for real action which time will only tell how much could be accomplished.
Looking Forward: Skill Development & Youth Employment
New policies to provide an enabling framework for encouraging industry and employment were unveiled:
- Logistics Park Development and Promotion Policy
- Export Promotion Policy
- RO RO Operation Promotion Policy
Another important outcome of the summit is creating employment opportunities for the youth in the state. Dassault Systems signed off with Indian Chamber of Commerce for setting up a Design Centre. Apparel Export Promotion Council announced the setting up of a Skill Development Centre in their Salt Lake campus. Uber and Ola signed off with Transport Department of the state to increase employment opportunities for the youth. In addition, huge employment growth is expected to occur with the large investments that will fructify the result of BGBS 2018.