Indian state woos investors for SEZ

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 12:00am

The 'chief executing of Cyberabad' is attempting to garner a fresh wave of international interest in his home state of Andhra Pradesh with the launch of a US$400 million public-private project to build and develop a special economic zone (SEZ).

Nara Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of the southern state of 76 million people, has attracted swathes of headlines in recent years for his vocal embrace of high technology, which he claims can spur development of even the poorest.

Courted by world leaders such as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Microsoft's Bill Gates, Mr Naidu this week said that the state was canvassing private-sector developers for the zone, which could eventually cover 40 square kilometres.

The first phase of project calls for supporting investment by the New Delhi and Andhra Pradesh authorities of US$166 million for off-site infrastructure around the coastal town of Visakhapatnam.

The potential private-sector partner, responsible for building and operating the zone on an open-ended basis, would plough in a further US$234 million.

Mr Naidu, after meeting with political and business leaders in Singapore, said the zone was expected to pull in additional foreign direct investment of US$7 billion in the 10 years to 2013.

Andhra Pradesh officials plan to market the project, which will enjoy a low-tax regime, in London, New York and the United Arab Emirates.

The deadline for selecting a partner is next March.

Mr Naidu said his state government had concluded a memorandum of understanding with Jurong Consultants, an arm of Singapore's state-linked industrial-estate developer Jurong Town, to provide consultancy services. No value on the tie-up was disclosed.

The chief minister also met with Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Trade and Industry Minister George Yeo Yong-Boon.

The project comes as many international investors are increasingly drawn by the opportunities offered by economic reform and growth in South Asia.