The Gujarat government was taken unawares as an Indo-China Economic Trade Cooperation conference held at a city-based hotel on Wednesday saw the announcement of 15 MoUs being signed at an estimated $590 million (USD) in an event, that was largely anchored by the visiting business delegation from China’s southern province Guangdong and local industry bodies.
A 11-member Chinese delegation of officials led by Guangdong province governor Zhu Xiaodan, was on a two-day visit to the state and had signed an agreement with the Gujarat Government on Tuesday for an action plan on mutual cooperation to take their sister state partnership to the next level. Gujarat CM Anandiben on Tuesday announced that a permanent review system will be put in place to review progress of Chinese projects and MoU’s every three months.
Guangdong’s department of commerce, which announced the quantum of MoU’s that covered crucial sectors like infrastructure, energy, agriculture, information technology, electronics and pharmaceuticals, took both the local industry trade body GCCI and the Industrial Extension Bureau of Gujarat officials present at the venue by surprise who were left bumbling with no details of the investments.
“The MoU’s signed today are between Chinese and Indian firms and the event is held by the Department of Commerce of Guangdong Province and the GCCI(Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry). The state government is nowhere in the picture. The MoU signing was a private programme and since the Guangdong Governor is here we also attended the event. We had asked for details on the agreements but we don’t know the particulars of the agreements. We came to know about the MoUs signed only at the event, it is the initiative of their (China’s) commerce chamber along with our chamber. The state government’s official event was held in Tuesday at Gandhinagar,” said G.R.Aloria, chief secretary, Govt of Gujarat while speaking to the media.
The business conference had 300 participants including Indian firms and 50 Chinese firms from electronics, ICT, household appliances, new energy, pharmaceutical, agriculture, construction materials, smart city and infrastructure sectors and industry bodies from Guangdong. Sources added, that while the event was organised mainly by the Guangdong’s department of commerce, it was aided by a bevy of industry bodies like GCCI, FICCI, China India Trade & Investment Centre ( CITIC ) & India China Economic & Cultural Council ( ICEC ), Delhi. The Chinese business delegation took part in several sector specific business networking meets at the event.
Rohit J Patel, President of the GCCI(Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry) said,”It is not fair to say that they (state government) did not know as after PM Narendra Modi’s China visit this year, almost 7 Chinese delegations have been here after that and have been in touch with the GCCI here. We, being the former members for the industry are proactive and organised the event in a short 3-4 days time and also reached out to government within this time and they have reacted by proactively participating.”
Addressing the conference, Guangdong Governor Zhu Xiaodan said, “Guangdong will increase import of advantageous products from Gujarat. Qualified enterprises will be encouraged from Guangdong to participate in construction of SEZ and industrial parks in India. We also hereby sincerely welcome Indian traders and entrepreneurs to Guangdong to invest in trade and participate in the construction of the Guangdong Pilot Free Trade Zone and the international cooperation park.” Xiaodan further sought Gujarat’s participation in the development of the 21st century Maritime silk Road, promoted by Guangdong province as it made an inevitable stop in the route.
With Guangdong’s outbound tourists pegged at 76.6 million in 2014, he said that the province is actively looking into the feasibility of a direct flight route between the Chinese province and Ahmedabad to boost tourism. The Chinese government officials would be visiting GIDC Sanand, Sabarmati Ashram and the Sabarmati riverfront, added Manoj Aggarwal, MD of GIDC.
The MoU’s were signed in the presence of GR Aloria, Chief secretary of Gujarat, Le Yucheng, Chinese Ambassador to India, YK Sailas Thangal- Consul General of India in Guangzhou(China), Zhu Xiaodan, Governor of Guangdong province, Arvind Agrawal, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary to Government, Industries & Mines Department, Gujarat’s Industries Commissioner (IAS)Mamta Verma, D Thara, AMC commissioner among other dignitaries.
“The AMC had already prepared a proposal for partnership in water recycling system for the Sabarmati riverfront and second was for the smart city project for e-governance, which we have shared with them,” said AMC Commissioner D Thara, who was present at the event.