GCC-India Forum — A milestone in boosting strategic business partnership
The 4th GCC-India Industrial Forum concluded at King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh on Thursday, with identifying the most promising sectors to pump in investments worth billions of dollars and suggesting a road map to facilitate the process of drawing investments so as to take business ties to new heights of strategic partnership. Thursday’s plenary session on “Challenges and opportunities in the area of the Gulf industrial exports to India and vice versa,” as well as the parallel sessions on “Information technology”, “Oil, gas and renewable energy”, and “Food security and agriculture” highlighted the paramount significance for strategic partnership between India, the world’s largest IT outsourcing destination and largest exporter of rice and wheat to the Gulf, and the GCC, which sits on the world’s largest oil reserves, and hosts the largest Indian expatriate population.
The Federation of Gulf Cooperation Council Chambers (FGCCC) organized the mega event in cooperation with the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC), Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah inaugurated on Wednesday the two-day forum with the theme of “Opportunities and Challenges” at Bay La Sun Hotel, KAEC, in the presence of nearly 200 business leaders and top company executives from the six Gulf States and India.
The minister urged the Gulf and Indian business leaders and investors to seize the prevailing best investment environment in both sides in further enhancing business ties and tapping the potential investment opportunities in many vital sectors. On behalf of India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, Ravneet Kaur, joint secretary at India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, called for taking the strong GCC-India socio-cultural and economic ties to new heights.
Addressing the forum, CII Vice President Shobana Kamineni, who leads the 42-member Indian delegation at the forum, highlighted the very strong relations between India and the Gulf states that span centuries. “These relations shall be expanded further on strong foundations so as to create closer commercial and investment interactions. The GCC states have tremendous economic significance for India, especially in meeting India’s energy needs.”
Kamineni noted that many Indian businessmen consider GCC as part of their economy and these strong foundations and harmonious relations shall be improved to serve the interests of both sides. “As an energy thirsty country, India looks to the GCC states for more investments in vital areas, especially in petrochemical, IT, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors,” she said.
Last year, trade between India with GCC states far exceeded any other countries or blocs such as US and EU or Far East. We have combined trade of SR137 billion; and this should continue further. The GCC states have the largest Indian expatriate population and it has been proved that these people are peaceful, well-educated and hardworking, the CII official said. “We are very keen to have serious dialogue to promote the trade further in a spirit of cooperation. There are huge opportunities for GCC investments in improving India’s infrastructure.”
Kamineni said India has now about 100 smart cities where there are ample opportunities for GCC investors. She also noted that India’s health sector is featured with top quality and more affordable. “We can provide quality healthcare at one-fifth or one-tenth of the cost in the United States. About 80 percent of world’s generics manufactured in India at a much cheaper cost, comparing with many Western countries.”
According to Kamineni, CII, which has 7,500 members, represents 80 percent of Indian companies. “The CII’s large delegation has arrived here not only to represent India’s large companies but also to cater to the needs of tens of thousands of SMEs.”
Business to business (B2B) meetings were a major highlight of the forum, in which senior executives of several Gulf and Indian companies, in private meetings, exchanged ideas and explored avenues of starting joint ventures and strengthening collaboration in many vital sectors. It was an amazing and exciting experience for the delegates when they joined on a tour to various destinations and the huge facilities of KAEC inside the city.