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Saturday, Nov 18, 2006

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US trade teams to visit Kolkata

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Cos watching developments in IT sector

Kolkata , Nov. 17

In December and January, several US businessmen will be visiting Kolkata to explore opportunities here, according to Ms Aileen Crowe Nandi, Principal Commercial Officer of US Consulate General, Kolkata.

Addressing members of the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce here on Friday, Ms Nandi said between Janaury 18 and 20, 2007, International Scrap Recycling Institute Trade Mission comprising 25 members would visit Kolkata and Durgapur.

Also, between November 28 and December 5 the largest trade mission, comprising 200 members and organised by the US Department of Commerce would be visiting India and three of the members of the mission would be visiting Kolkata.

Later talking to newspersons, she said that developments in West Bengal were being keenly watched by trade and industry, particularly the small and medium segments, in the US. The labour issue continued to be a major source of concern.

It remained to be seen whether the formation of trade union would disrupt normal operation in the IT sector, she said, adding that the strike called on December 14 therefore was important.

Ms Nandi pointed out that the West Bengal Chief Minister's visit to the US, likely to take place some time in the fall next year, would help clear many misconceptions. The India-US bilateral merchandise trade, according to her, was expected to post an estimated 20 per cent growth in 2006 over the last year's $26.77 billion. The US merchandise exports to India in 2005 amounted to $7.96 billion, registering a growth of 30.3 per cent over 2004, and US merchandise imports from India during the same year registered 20.8 per cent growth at $18.81 billion. During the period from 2003 to 2006, the bilateral trade will have increased by 77 per cent.

Mr Rakesh Surampudi, Political & and Economic Officer of US Consulate General, Kolkata, had earlier said that in the past the general view of West Bengal was that it was a difficult place to implement reform. However, the change was now occurring here as the West Bengal Government was welcoming foreign investment, taking initiatives to promote growth and showing willingness to adapt labour laws to special circumstances of the IT industry and to close loss-making public enterprises.

"That is the message that all of us must continue to communicate to our American partners and we must encourage the Government here to deliver that message as well," he observed.

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