Inaugurates 20th industrial trade fair

Our Bureau

KolkataJan. 22Endorsing a suggestion of the leader of a large business delegation from Bangladesh visiting the city, the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee, said that he also favoured a bilateral trade policy for India and Bangladesh which ensures equal benefits to both countries from the export-import trade.

The Chief Minister felt that it was not desirable to continue with an "un-equal" trade policy which forces Bangladesh to carry huge deficit balance of payment doing business with India.

Inaugurating the 20th Industrial India Trade Fair here on Monday, Mr Bhattacherjee said that the State Government was determined to follow the Centre's "Look-East Policy" to promote export-import business from West Bengal to other South Asian countries. In fact, the State has initiated moves to attract investment from South East Asian countries.

Though the State Government is trying to attract private investments to set up large manufacturing units, it wants to give priority to the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) because SMEs would only be able to create more jobs.

The Chief Minister said, "We committed some mistakes while acquiring land for SEZs at Nandigram but we are keen to resolve the land acquisition problem through negotiations with the stakeholders."

He said, "I am ready to talk anything under the sun" in order to resolve the land acquisition problem.

He elaborated by saying that the State had achieved success in agriculture. Now it wants to set up industries to create jobs for the unemployed persons. He thus requested all political parties not to halt the progress of development in the State.

However, the fair was organised by the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce & Industry in cooperation with the State Government and India Trade Promotion Organisation.

Following the shifting of the fair venue from traditional location at Maidan to Salt Laka Stadium, the number of participants had to be restricted due to space shortage. Altogether 650 exhibitors are participating in the fair. China is the focused country with a 75-member strong business delegation from the country covering 32 industries participating in the fair. The other participating countries are Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Egypt, Turkey and Bhutan.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 23, 2007)
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