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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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German team for biz bond

A much-needed direct air link established by Lufthansa, Metro Cash & Carry gearing up to showcase its eclectic B2B spread, Bayern Munich stars contemplating a pre-season kickabout in Calcutta…

Germany has been reaching out to connect with the city on myriad platforms, and the steady trickle of business delegations from the European powerhouse has been a strong indicator of its alliance intent.

Carrying the dialogue ahead will be a 26-member delegation led by Georgi Hanspeter, state minister of economics and labour, Saarland — set to be in town from March 3 to 10 to explore business collaborations, with a sharp focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“Saarland is a very small state in Germany, close to the French border, with a population just over a million. However, our diminutive size is often a huge advantage, since we react quicker to issues and take swifter decisions,” Joachim Kiefaber, head of the department for international economic relations, Saarland, told Metro.

Kiefaber, along with Gerd Martin, head, Asian and overseas markets, Saarland, was on a reconnoitre trip ahead of the biz team visit. He felt SMEs constituted the “common area of strength” between West Bengal and Saarland and would be the unifying thread in the matchmaking sessions.

The delegation will have representation from pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and chemicals, food supplements, foundry, rational drug design, auto parts, brewery, separation and extraction technology, electrical and electronic cables and wires, security and consulting.

“We have had very positive feedback from the members of last year’s delegation, and their business matchmaking conclaves were extremely successful. Hence, the decision to return with a bigger squad,” said Martin. Saarland, traditionally strong in steel and coal, is keen to export technology in these areas.

“We want to go where our business people feel comfortable and want to go. Calcutta, with its high level of education and engineering knowledge, fits the bill with panache. Besides, the Bengal government is now really international-minded and flexible to overseas business proposals. Even real estate prices are low here,” Kiefaber added.

Besides possible cooperation in pharmaceuticals, automotive parts, mechanical engineering and call centres, the Saarland delegation will also be keen to examine possibilities of a partnership with the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta.

“We could look at a tie-up with the Europe Institute, headquartered in Saarland, with student and faculty exchange programmes. Maybe, we can even fit in European business administration and law in the curriculum and also look at a second campus for the IIM in Germany at a later date,” Kiefaber pointed out.

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