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Tuesday, Dec 03, 2002

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TN yet to open account in HK markets

Rasheeda Bhagat

While the Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh Governments had taken a keen interest in Hong Kong and China, other State Governments, even Kerala and West Bengal, had sent trade delegations to Hong Kong.

NOT only Indian IT majors, but most State Governments from India are looking at Hong Kong as a window to the huge China market, for a variety of products and services.

And they have been periodically sending delegations to Hong Kong to explore the business opportunities in this special administrative region of China. "Mr Chandrababu Naidu has been sending his legislators; I think about 300 of his MLAs have already visited China and Hong Kong and seen for themselves the business opportunities available. The Chief Minister himself continues to keep in touch with Hong Kong," says Mr M. Arunachalam chairman of the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

He adds that every quarter the Industries Secretary from Andhra visits Hong Kong, and if the Chamber is even a wee bit lax on following up something from Andhra, "they come to my office and say we had sent this or that. Why haven't you replied? What is the problem?"

For somebody from Chennai, the natural question to ask is on the interest shown by the Tamil Nadu Government. When this question is posed to both the Chamber as well as the Indian Consulate in Hong Kong, the answer is a surprising, "None, whatsoever."

Mr Arunachalam, who hails from Tamil Nadu, and who completed his education in Trichy, is very forthright. "I have been living in Hong Kong for over 30 years. I have not seen a single business or trade delegation from Tamil Nadu visiting here. Even a small state like Chattisgarh has registered its presence in Hong Kong; its chief minister Mr Ajit Jogi recently visited Hong Kong with his Chief Secretary and Industries Secretary."

The chamber's Secretary General, Mr Shanta Ram, adds that while Karnataka and Andhra Governments had taken a keen interest in Hong Kong and China, several other State Governments, even Kerala and West Bengal, had sent delegations to Hong Kong to explore business opportunities.

Added Mr Arunachalam, "In fact a few months ago we sent a letter to the Tamil Nadu Government saying why don't you send your people here; particularly to explore opportunities in IT? But we are yet to get a response. I feel bad that whenever an IT delegation goes from here to India, everybody wants to go to Delhi to meet Nasscom representatives, and from there they go to Bangalore, then Hyderabad and then return. Tamil Nadu doesn't seem to figure in their list."

Mr Shanta Ram added that no State Government could think that "people will come automatically to them because they won't."

He said a Hong Kong Government organisation called `Invest Hong Kong' is constantly trying to get investments into Hong Kong. The Indian Chamber is organising a visit of this body to India in February 2003.

"They are going to Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Originally they were to go to Chennai too, but today I got a message from them saying they have dropped Chennai and no explanation has been given."

Mr Arunachalam added that the Chamber's objective was to promote Hong Kong as a gateway to China; "they know Indians are not going to come to Hong Kong alone. So they are saying that go to China, but go through Hong Kong. In China today the legal system is not very clear so you first send your representative to open an office in Hong Kong and use it as a stepping stone to go to China. The Hong Kong Government is willing to give information and logistic support on how to get ultimately to China to explore business opportunities there".

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