Amcham India visit to Kolkata for National Executive Board Meeting and other meetings – February 25, 2014

Amcham India delegation led by Mr. Lowell Paddock, Chairman, Amcham India and President and Managing Director, General Motors India Pvt. Ltd., along with members of the National Executive Board and Sectoral Committee Chairmen called on Dr. Amit Mitra, Minister-in-Charge, Department of Finance; Excise, of Commerce & Industries, of Public Enterprises, Industrial Reconstruction, Government of West Bengal, on 25th February 2014.

Dr. Mitra presented the macro economic scenario of West Bengal and gave out impressive figures for growth of agriculture sector, mining, power generation, etc. Some of the deeper changes brought about by the Government under the Chief Minister, Kumari Mamata Banerjee, included opening up of fair price shops in hospitals so that medical supplies could be made available at reasonable prices; Web procurement of medicines from all over the world ;all VAT registrations to be done online; and all Government procurements only through e-tendering.

Some of the areas where U.S. investors should invest included food processing, power / energy, infrastructure, healthcare, defence, civil aviation, IT etc.

Dr. Mitra spoke about West Bengal’s new Industrial Policy, new SME Policy, Textile and IT Policies. Focus was on job creation through labour intensive industries; growth of SMEs; agriculture, solar and hydel power. Availability of land was not a problem. He welcomed automobile industries to set up plants in West Bengal.

Similarly, the West Bengal Government welcomed U.S. investment / technology in the entertainment sector, particularly animation, gaming, studios, etc.

Dr. Mitra’s interaction was followed by a Press meeting where the Minister gave a brief report on his discussion with the Amcham India delegation. This was widely covered in all the business dailies including the vernacular press. This was followed by the National Executive Board meeting.

Round table discussions with Dr. Krishna Gupta, Managing Director, West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation

Dr. Gupta made a presentation on ‘West Bengal as a growing investment destination’ and presented the incentive schemes available as well as strategy of developing industrial parks. He also spoke about PPP successes. Dr. Gupta said that U.S. investment would be welcome in a number of sectors.

Mr. Lowell Paddock gave introductory remarks and Mr. Ambarish Dasgupta briefly discussed the opportunities available for U.S. companies. The session was attended by NEB members, Sectoral Committee members, members of Amcham’s Eastern Chapter and officials of U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate in Kolkata.

The session was followed by a talk on the ‘Emerging East’. Laurie Farris, Executive Director for Asia – Global Markets, International Trade, Administration, US Department of Commerce, Consul General Helen Leave, George Sibley, Minister for Counsellor Economic Affairs, Science and Technology, Mr. John McCaslin, Minister Counsellor Commercial Affairs, Mr. Richard Craig, Principal Commercial Officer, and Mr. Garuv Bansal, Political and Economic office, members of the NEB and Sectoral Chairmen, West Bengal Government Officials, CEO’s of the business communities amongst others were the special invitees.

Mr. Surajit Banerjee, Chairman Amcham Eastern Chapter, delivered the Welcome Address followed by opening remarks by Mr. Lowell Paddock.

Mr. Joydeep Datta Gupta, Member Executive Committee, Senior Director, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Pvt. Ltd, moderated the session on “Emerging East”.

Prof. Anup Sinha, Department of Economics, Indian Institute of Management (IIMC), Kolkata spoke about the opportunities in the North Eastern States and the potential for growth including FDI.

Professor Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of History at Harvard University spoke on the history of West Bengal and on the social perspective of the “Emerging East”. He said that West Bengal had taken the lead in economic development and since the last 2-1/2 years, a new West Bengal was emerging. Work culture had finally returned after two decades and the Chief Minister had brought in more openness to economic development, creating a conducive environment for foreign investment.

Mr. Gulshan Sachdev, Vice Chairman, NEB gave concluding remarks and the vote of thanks. The session then opened up for networking and dinner.