Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Jul 17, 2004
Industry & Economy
Italy keen on expanding trade ties
Kolkata , July 16
ITALY is keen to send a team of representatives of the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure to explore future collaborations in infrastructure segments, such as roads, ports, airports and urban management.
In addition, the forthcoming visit of the Italian Minister of Agriculture to India in December is expected to provide an opportunity to discuss the scope for collaboration in the area of agro-business.
Stating this during an interaction with members of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) here, the Italian Minister for External Affairs, Ms Margherita Boniver, said that Italian expertise in urban development and connected works could open the way for future collaborations.
She said India, and West Bengal in particular, offered great scope in areas such as agro-business and food processing. "Joint ventures with Italy already exist for refrigeration and for processing pineapples but the chain could be widened to include other products and processing aspects," she said.
According to her, there was considerable scope for enhancing bilateral trade, from the present level of $2 billion per annum. A series of measures were being taken to facilitate easier access to information on the Italian market.
Towards this end, the first "Sportello Unico" would be set up in Kolkata. It would be a single window open to all Indian businessmen seeking information and assistance in their business dealings with Italian companies. Visa formalities have been outsourced with a view to speeding up the entire process.
She said businessmen in Italy have been bullish about prospects in West Bengal following the visit last year of a business delegation led by the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
A number of collaborative agreements have since been signed and more and more Italian businessmen were keen to explore business opportunities in West Bengal.
Ms Boniver said a cultural agreement between Italy and India has just been signed. "Such an agreement augers well for the memorandum of understanding which will be signed in the coming months between the main universities of Kolkata and prominent universities in Italy for exchange of teachers, researchers and students in various academic faculties," she said.
The President of ICC, Mr Anup Singh, said Italy was India's fourth largest trading partner in Europe and the 12th largest foreign investor in India. With eastern India on the threshold of a new economic resurgence, it would be appropriate to redefine trade and tourism in the region.
"The large markets of South East Asia will be much closer to this region than Western and Southern India. The Asian Highway has also been signed and provides another corridor. Both these developments open up a huge market, with significant savings in logistics and new opportunities in these markets," he said.
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