The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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New York ready for sister act

Calcutta, Jan. 5: New York wants a sister state relationship with Bengal and to work together in business, tourism, education and health.

Addressing members of the Confederation of Indian Industry at a luncheon meeting, US Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, a member of the India Caucus, said: “We would like to develop a state-to-state relationship with West Bengal.”

Echoing him, New York senator and house member in finance, banking and education Malcolm A. Smith said: “New York is keen to develop a sister state relationship in exchange programmes in four areas — business, tourism, education and eradication of AIDS. New York has developed a sister-city relationship with Beijing, China.”

He added: “We would float this idea before the West Bengal chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, today. After getting his feedback, we will go back to New York and take up the matter with the governor. We have to take a nod from the state legislature.”

The chief minister met the US delegation in the evening and had an hour-long meeting. However, he refused to comment on what they talked about.

Earlier, the Americans went to the IT hub at Saltlec (Salt Lake Electronic Complex) and visited firms like CATCG Software, Skytech Solutions and Chembiotech. They also dropped in at the city office of Haldia Petrochem.

The US delegation is keen to discuss business proposals in projects involving investments of $2-3 million in eastern India, particularly those relating to food processing and bio-medical technology.

Meeks said this is a step towards building a friendship with the state. “Once we become friends, we develop a trust. Once trust is developed, sky is the limit for both of us.”

“This state has immense potential because it is rich in human capital,” he added.

While the Americans want to develop Bengal into a sister state, Italy wants to develop business opportunities. At the luncheon meeting, Antonio Silvi, the deputy consul-general of the country, said the state has signed a memorandum of understanding with Italian provinces. “In the coming months, we hope to pass from the phase of contacts to the more interesting one of operative agreements,” Silvi said.

To strengthen ties, a delegation from Tuscany led by the minister of commerce and the chairman of the industrial development agency of the region will be visiting Calcutta. This will be followed by another delegation from the region of Lombardy.

Towards the end of the year, the Consulate General of Italy is planning two exhibitions — one dedicated to the latest trends in interior decoration and the other to wines, spirits and cheese from six regions of north Italy.

“We will probably also be holding a historical exhibition of silverware and goldware, which is likely to include a delegation of Italian gold manufacturers,” Silvi said.

The Indo-Italian chamber of commerce has already been relaunched in Calcutta.

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