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USIBC team to explore scope in Kerala

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A major highlight was holding talks with the top officials of Rolls Royce Engine Services on the possibility of establishing an aircraft maintenance facility, at a cost of around Rs 8,000 crore, at the Nedumbassery airport.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, July 17

A HIGH-LEVEL delegation of US-India Business Council (USIBC), comprising businessmen representing various sectors, will visit Kerala within the next couple of months to explore investment opportunities in the State.

This will be followed by the visit of a team of 50 US investors to the State on a similar mission next January, according to Mr P.K. Kunhalikutty, Industries Minister, who led a high-level Government delegation to the US recently.

Speaking to newspersons, he said that another team from Maryland and Pennsylvania was expected in the State shortly.

The team would interact with Universities, institutions and other agencies in the areas of information technology, biotechnology, education and healthcare for possible tie-ups and co-operation.

The Minister said that during its tour of various places in the US between July 3 and 13, his team held discussions with an array of business bodies, companies and individuals seeking investments in Kerala.

However, he added that it was premature to quantify the results of the visit, but he did qualify it as a success in terms of the response the discussions elicited.

One of the major highlights of the visit was holding talks with the top officials of Rolls Royce Engine Services, Oakland, on the possibility of establishing an aircraft maintenance facility, at a cost of around Rs 8,000 crore, at the Nedumbassery international airport in Kochi.

During the discussions, the company sought information on the number of light aircraft and helicopters used by the Indian Navy and Air Force in Kerala which would require periodic engine maintenance.

The Minister said that details on these aspects would be collected and forwarded to the company.

The team signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with Mr Chandu Patel of California for setting up a multi-crore tourism resort in Kerala, and with Mr Sasidharan Nair, President and Chief Executive Officer of Supreme Health Care, Texas, for creating a heritage village for the aged in central Travancore.

Amway Corporation has expressed interest in setting up an agro-processing facility in the State.

The senior officials of the company stationed in Delhi will visit Kerala shortly to hold discussions with Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) in this regard, the Minister said.

The team also held meetings with the representatives of Cognizant Technologies for setting up shop in Kerala in software and IT-enabled sectors, and W.P. Carey, a leader in real estate and infrastructure finance, with which an MoU will be signed shortly for acting as an associate of KSIDC in the US for project finance for mega ventures.

Besides, discussions were held with Bryan Cave, Washington, on the setting up of a textiles unit in Kerala and with Ms Jaya Jacob, Investment Analyst at International Finance Corporation, on the proposed mega petrochemicals complex in Kasaragod district.

The Minister said that everyone the team talked to was invariably anxious about the labour scenario in Kerala, and whether investments in the State would be secure.

In this context, he said that efforts were on to reach a consensus on the proposed labour legislation through talks with political parties and trade unions.

The Labour Bill, meanwhile, will be introduced in the State Assembly on July 24.

The Minister said that the success of the visit would depend upon serious follow-up exercises.

Kerala has to keep itself ready with an investor-friendly atmosphere, which includes fair labour practices. "Otherwise, the State will miss another bus,'' he said.

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