The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US envoy seeks end to tariff barriers
- Blackwill sees huge potential in agro-based industries

Calcutta, Nov. 27: US ambassador to India Robert D. Blackwill today said Bengal had huge potential for investment in agro-based industries, particularly food processing.

Tariff barriers and red-tape should be removed to woo investors, Blackwill said at a function organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce in the city. “The tariff barriers can lead investors from the US to some other states,” he added.

Blackwill’s statement virtually echoed global consultant McKinsey and Co’s recent observation that Bengal had the potential to emerge as one of the biggest powerhouses of agro-based industries in Asia.

The envoy, who met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings this morning, said he had learnt about the state’s intentions in these sectors during the meeting.

India has made an extraordinary contribution in infotech, Blackwill said. “Over the last five years, 40 per cent of all the software invented in Silicon Valley was either by Indians or by people of Indian origin,” he said.

The envoy said China was emerging as a major market force. “China is considered an extremely investment-friendly country. India is somewhat behind in marketing of products,” he said.

“In 1998, there was $320 billion worth of foreign investment in China against only $19 billion in India,” he said and emphasised that marketing of products should be improved in India.

Blackwill said India has become the second-largest country after China for legal migration to the US. Each year more than 18,000 Indian students are issued visas and there are 22 per cent more Indians studying in the US this year than the last, he added.

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