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Italy zeroes in on Bengal

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By Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 13.02.07

Calcutta, Feb. 13: Italy is betting big on India as it widens its global reach. Bengal, with its focus on SMEs, will play an important role.

There are 160 Italian enterprises in India having a turnover of around 900 million euros. Of these, around 60 per cent are in manufacturing.

“I have visited Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. But these states do not match the cultural ties and friendship we share with Bengal ... As we explore more global markets, India will figure prominently in our plans,” Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said.

He is leading a 450- strong Italian delegation, which is currently touring the country for business opportunities.

The Italian team has arranged many B2B meetings in the city. A separate trade office of the Italian Trade Commission will also be opened here between September and December, Prodi added.

SIMEST, an organisation that promotes Italian companies abroad, already has an MoU with West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC). It has funded projects worth 300 million euros in India.

Since Bengal is the focus state for SMEs in India, organisations like the SIMEST is focusing on the SME projects through the 300-million-euro Go India fund set up for this purpose.

Italian firms would work with those in Bengal on agri, leather, copper, engineering and mechanical industries, the Italian Prime Minister said after his meeting with Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Bhattacharjee earlier asked the Italians to help with their expertise in food processing, leather processing and packaging.

This delegation was first part of this strategy to implement these plans rapidly.

“Indian companies are welcome to Italy and should use the country as a bridge to the huge market of EU. They should also look at Italy as a favourable trade and investment destination with as much enthusiasm to facilitate commercial exchange,” Prodi said.