Netherlands takes long-term view on prospects for investment in Gujarat

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on January 18, 2019 Published on January 18, 2019

Inks Customs treaty for faster clearances

Betting big on Gujarat's growth story, the Dutch have reposed faith in the prospects of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit. This is in contrast with Britain, which pulled out of the biannual event citing "unsatisfactory commercial outcomes". While the latter has opted to utilise its resources for business events across India, the Dutch have expressed more optimism about Gujarat and the Vibrant Summit.

On prospects for investment in Gujarat in new and emerging sectors, Menno Snel, Minister of Finance for Taxation & Customs of the Netherlands, said the European country looks at Gujarat with a long-term view.

"I didn't know their (UK or US's) reason (to not partner in Vibrant Gujarat). Apparently, I believe, they didn't find any good investments. And I would say, I do. And my Dutch companies still do. I look at this issue differently from them. We are optimists," Snel told BusinessLine during an interview ahead of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit. Top partners of the summit, such as the US and UK, pulled out from the event earlier.

Snel, who is leading a delegation of more than 100 Dutch business officials from 54 organisations, said the Netherlands would sign 10 MoUs during the summit. Of these, two would be G-2-G MoUs and seven B-2-G (between Dutch Businesses and Gujarat Government) and 1 B-2-B MoU.

"They are all about strategic, long-term plans. Not about which companies put down what amount. Partnerships and relations are the fixation," said Snel, who met the Gujarat Chief Minister, Vijay Rupani, on Thursday.

Earlier, during his India visit, Snel had signed a treaty on Customs. "This would ensure better bilateral cooperation between the two Customs authorities. Because in trade, Customs is the key. A delay in customs processes has costs. The faster you get a product to the other country, the better it is. With this cooperation on the customs side, we can speed up this process," he said.

Besides its embassy in New Delhi, the Netherlands has Consulate-General offices in Mumbai and Bengaluru, besides Netherlands Business Support Offices in Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. "NBSOs facilitate trade and there is always an upward potential. To explore this potential, we must be on the ground. For that, you may need bigger offices and stronger teams. If VG brings more success, we may require more people on the floor," said Snel.

On the investment outlook in India, Snel said it requires patience. "You have to build relations. But, speeding up processes and less bureaucracy would be helpful for trade partners. I'll not shy away from saying that, surely, there is still some ground to cover. But that is fine. We are happy that PM Modi's agenda focusses on manufacturing and financial markets. This matches our agenda," he added.

In the last 15 years, the Netherlands has seen euro 15 billion in direct investments coming to India and bilateral trade exceeded euro 7 billion in 2017. About 180 Indian companies are active in the Dutch market, while 200 Dutch companies operate in India.

"We see India as an interesting market, not for the next five-seven years, but the next 20 years and more," he said.

Published on January 18, 2019
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