Interactive Session on Industry Initiatives and Steps to Build a Stronger Indo-U.S. Relationship

 

On November 23rd, 2018 AMCHAM’s Eastern Region organized an interactive session on industry initiatives and steps to build a stronger Indo-U.S. relationship at the Hyatt Regency, Kolkata. Ms. Vandana Yadav, IAS Managing Director of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation was the guest speaker. Ms. Amada Kidwai, Regional Director – Eastern Region, AMCAHM, gave the introduction, Mr. Joydeep Dutta Gupta, Executive Committee Member, AMCHAM, gave the welcome address and Mr. K.P. Sengupta, Past Chairman – Eastern Region, AMCHAM, gave the concluding remarks and vote of thanks. The session concluded with a lively and interactive Q&A session.

 

Ms. Yadav spoke about the ease of doing business in West Bengal with a focus on the forth coming BGBS 2019 scheduled for February 7-8th, 2019, and invited American companies to participate. She spoke about Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, known as the ‘Cultural Capital’ and ‘City of Joy.’ With an area of 88,752 km; population of 91.3 million, literacy of 77.08%; language spoken – Bengali, English, Hindi, Urdu and Nepali; and 23 districts in the state. West Bengal shared international borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan and the fourth largest economy in India, it is strategically located on the east coast making it the ‘Gateway to SE Asia and NE India’ to 300 million people of the region. She said it was the principal commercial, cultural and educational center of East India, the 3rd most populous metropolitan area and skilled manpower in virtually all sectors. She mentioned that Kolkata had the oldest port in India and an airport that was the largest hub for air traffic in the eastern region. She spoke about the investment opportunities in the state touching upon:

 

• Agri Business: Agriculture, food processing, fisheries, horticulture, ARD and ari marketing
• Infrastructure: Transport, logistics, power, urban development, manufacturing
• Services: It and Ites, tourism, health, education and skill development

 

Some of the statics mentioned included:

• Largest in number of MSMEs and third largest in number of people employed in MSMEs
• Workforce close to 4 crore, third largest in the country
• Leading state in terms of power distribution, quality and availability
• Two large container and bulk handling ports at Kolkata and Haldia
• Two international airports at Kolkata and Bagdogra
• Leading in the country in terms of spread, density and reach of inland waterways
• Among leading exporters with 12% of country’s leather & 10% of iron and steel exports
• In ease of doing business, West Bengal has scored 99.46% in reforms compliance
• e-services and web-supported systems
• State-of-the-art single window system developed for online application

 

Ms. Yadav spoke about the WB – U.S. relationship that had a long thriving history earmarked by the visionary speech given by Swami Vivekananda in Chicago at the first ‘World’s Parliament of Religions’ in 1893 as well as the fact that Kolkata, then Calcutta, was an important military hub during World War II for American soldiers. Rabindranath Tagore, the famous poet and Nobel Laureate, visited the United States five times between 1912 and 1930, receiving a warm welcome everywhere. Nobel Laureate Mother Teresa was given honorary citizenship of Chicago. She said that the United States had the second-largest population of Bengali people, outside of Asia after the UK, mainly in New York, California, New Jersey etc. She mentioned that the 2017-18 exports from West Bengal to the U.S. were 6.88% (629.59 USD million) and was the 3rd top most export destination.

 

She mentioned that the 2017-18 top export commodities from west Bengal were:

 

• Production of Iron and Steel – 27.30 %
• Leather Goods – 13.99 %
• Marine Products – 12.98 %
• Jute Hessian – 4.2 %
• Petroleum Products – 3.64 %