German business alliance

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 12.03.07
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Biotechnology and beer, foundry and pharmaceuticals, castings and consultancy —the biz team from Saarland, Germany, which was in town last week, has pledged alliances in a clutch of sectors.

“We have been watching the sweeping changes in Calcutta with great interest and our meeting with Bengal’s chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was extremely fruitful. While biotechnology and nanotechnology will be two of our thrust areas, there are possibilities in other spheres, too,” Hanspeter Georgi, minister of economics and labour, Saarland, told Metro.

Georgi led a 26-member delegation with a sharp focus on pharmaceuticals and with an eye on tie-ups with small and medium enterprises. With 40 per cent of industrial employees in the small German state employed in the automobile sector, Saarland’s focus in Bengal next year will be on automobiles, said Holger Schmitt, head of press relations in the ministry.

Schmitt said while Ford has a special plant in Saarland to manufacture its Focus model, Porsche and Michelin also have large manufacturing units in the German state. “Castings for the automotive industry is a strength of ours and if the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC) can identify areas for us to step in, we will be glad to do so.”

The Saarland delegation to town last year met 100 Bengal companies at the mining matchmaking forum. “They were very well prepared by the German engineering federation, which has been working in tandem with IGCC to facilitate business ties with Germany,” said Joachim Kiefaber, head of the department for international economic relations.

The German team was also confident of completing a tie-up of the Europe Institute headquartered in Saarland, with IIM Calcutta for student and faculty exchange programmes and also for a possible second campus for the IIM in Germany at a later date.

“Saarland is particularly well-placed to appreciate the stabilising role that India has taken upon itself within Asia,” said Georgi. The perception of Calcutta in the West is changing all the time.

“Lufthansa’s direct flight and Metro Cash & Carry setting up shop are clear manifestations of this. Our aim is to leverage this and carry the dialogue further, with cross-border exchanges of people and technology,” he concluded.