Indian HC urges business community
Raise levels of commercial activity between Guyana, India
Guyana Chronicle
March 4, 2004

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MUCH more needs to be done to bridge the information gap and to achieve greater levels of commercial and economic interaction between India and Guyana, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Mr. Avinash Gupta said yesterday.

Speaking at the opening of a two-day Indian Catalogue Exhibition of Products at Le Meridian Pegasus Hotel, High Commissioner Gupta said the two countries enjoy very cordial and friendly political relations based on historical and cultural ties, but conceded that the level of commercial and economic interaction is way below its potential.

However, he noted that there has been some improvement in the recent past, and the Catalogue Exhibition is a “humble effort on our part to enlighten the Guyanese business community about some of the strengths of the Indian industry.”

The exhibition displayed information on a wide variety of products manufactured in India including engineering and industrial goods, pharmaceuticals, hospital and sports equipment, ceramics, textiles, and computer software and hardware.

Gupta pointed out though, that the information gap has been narrowed with the two visits President Bharrat paid to India within the last six months.

One of the immediate outcomes of the President’s visits has been the agreement by India to extend to Guyana a concessional credit line of US$25.2M for the modernisation of the sugar industry. India has also made a US$6M grant for the construction of a cricket stadium to host the 2007 World Cup Cricket matches.

President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Mr. Edward Boyer, alluded to the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries, and also urged greater collaboration and deepening of trade and commercial ties.

He said that the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce, a powerful body in India, has extended an invitation to the GCCI to make a visit later this year.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who also spoke at the function, hailed the dramatic scientific and technological advancements and achievements of India since its independence, particularly in the fields of aerospace and information technology, genetic engineering, industrial engineering, agriculture and medicine.

Her acknowledged the role India has been playing in helping and giving support to developing countries and remarked that ever since attaining independence, it has been “a staunch ally of the developing countries of Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.”

India needs to be emulated by other developing countries for the immense success of its green revolution thereby ensuring food security, diverse industrial manufacturing and forging of social cohesion, Hinds observed, adding that since independence, India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has quadrupled and is among the top ten industrial countries at present.

Alluding to the wide variety of industrial goods being produced by India, the Prime Minister said “India is a great place to look at,” observing that nearly all the goods that were being obtained from countries that became industrialised before India could now be obtained from the latter.

Small scale industries have been another success story in India, Hinds noted, noting its relevance to the local situation.

As regards Information Technology (IT) consciousness in schools here, Hinds said it is not adequate and proposed that Guyana adopts Barbados’ strategy of welcoming a large number of Indian experts to improve IT levels in schools.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged the assistance being provided by India in the modernisation of the sugar factories and the construction of the cricket stadium. He pointed out that bilateral trade has been growing, with Guyana importing $600M worth of goods from India, while exporting $617M last year.

India is the second fastest growing economy in the world at present, and has recorded one of the highest growth rates in the 1990s.

A unique feature of the Indian economy, according to High Commissioner Gupta, is that there has been high growth with stability, and the country has proved its strength and resilience when there have been crises in other parts of the world including in Asia in recent years.

On the issue of food production, Gupta said India is one of the largest producers with a total out put of 600 million tonnes annually, and is the largest producer of milk, sugarcane and tea in the world.

Indian companies have drawn ambitious plans, the High Commissioner said, for expanding and diversifying their manufacturing activities with an investment of about US$12 billion during the next three years.

Gupta informed the gathering that India has emerged as a global player in Information Technology (IT) with software exports expected to reach US$57 billion by 2008.

He added that it is not just the low-cost which is driving India’s exports. Rather, it is the quality of Indian products that has become globally recognised.

He noted too that India has the second largest reservoir of engineers, scientists, managers and skilled personnel and the largest pool IT manpower in the world.

Cabinet ministers, local industrialists and other members of the local business community attended to exhibition yesterday. (Chamanlall Naipaul)