MAC: Mines and Communities

Italian Smes Set For Big Deals In Bengal, Look For Sez Slot

Published by MAC on 2007-02-11
Source: Financial Express

Italian SMEs set for big deals in Bengal, look for SEZ slot

Financial Express, Kolkata

11th February 2007

Italian and Indian companies will be signing some big deals here on Monday in energy, power, textiles and food processing, as one of the largest-ever trade teams from Italy chooses to make Kolkata its first halt in a five-city tour of India.

Over 400 Italian entrepreneurs and bankers have laid siege to Kolkata to capitalise on what they see as West Bengal's major advantages --- surplus power, low primary costs and land availability.

Giuseppe Morandini, president of the small industry council of Confindustria, the industry body, said Italian small & medium enterprises (SMEs), the backbone of their industry, are particularly appreciative of West Bengal's renewed focus on industry.

"One thing that is really interesting and moving for us entrepreneurs of the SMEs is the push that you want to give in this area to the manufacturing sector," he said, "because that is the best choice to create new workplaces and also jobs in the service sector."

Morandini has brought the advance party in his first touchdown in India, while prime minister Romano Prodi would be coming here on Tuesday.

Morandini, speaking via an interpreter, declining to name the companies that will be signing the deals, pointed out that ABI, the Italian banks' association, had on Friday announced a Euro 300 million designed specifically for Italian companies investing in India.

Italian companies are also looking at the special economic zones (SEZs) in West Bengal for investments.

West Bengal, Morandini said, is energy-surplus and a "very competitive market". "The situation is particularly favourable from the point of energy," he said. "The primary costs and land costs are also very competitive."

At the moment, only 3% of the 313 Italian companies in India are present in West Bengal.

The team consists mainly of SMEs. Morandini clarified that the European Union definition of an SME is based on number of employees (a maximum of 250) and not turnover or asset size as in India.

Prodi, at a halt in Chennai on Sunday, expressed the hope that bilateral trade between India and Italy would go up from $5.2bn at present to $13bn over the next three years.

On Monday, there will be four technical sessions and over 2000 business-to-business meetings at a programme organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci).

Italy's minister for international trade, Emma Bonino, would be addressing one of the sessions.

Prodi, accompanied by three ministers, top officials of the Confindustria --– including its chief Cordero di Montezemolo, who is chairman of carmaker Fiat --- and the ABI, and over 430 businessmen representing 300 companies, would be in India for six days, visiting Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi.

Prodi's goal, according to Italian news agency ANSA, is to make Italy "Europe's door to Asia."

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