Mission will aid business
By ARAVIND VIDYADHARAN
THE Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong are jointly organising a business mission to India to help gain an early presence in the emerging Indian market.
The high-powered Hong Kong ''Business Mission to India'', which will leave the territory for a five-day stay this Saturday, will be led by the chairman of the HKTDC, Dr Victor Fung.
Other members of the team will include Hatim Ebrahim, the chairman of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and deputy leader of the mission; Christopher Cheng, chairman of Wing Tai Garment International; Bob Chong, chairman of Chung Nam Watch Co; Hari Harilela, chairman of Harilela Hotels; Victor Lo, chairman of Gold Peak Industries; K. Sital, chairman of Style Asia; and Gordon Wu, chairman of Hopewell Holdings.
The trip will be a fact-finding one and include stops at New Delhi and Bombay.
''It is for local Hong Kong businessmen to familiarise themselves with India but, of course, also include imbibing a bit of the flavour of the local culture, along with meeting top Indian officials and businessmen,'' Mr Ebrahim said.
Meetings are planned with Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao, Finance Minister Manmohan Singh and Commerce Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
There will also be a chance for discussions with senior government civil servants from the departments of finance, commerce, industry, and external affairs, and officials with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board.
''The idea is to get to know the people who matter - both the most senior elected office bearers, as well as top civil servants in charge of various key ministries and organisations,'' Mr Ebrahim said.
''Once we are able to establish a personal rapport with these officials, it will be easier to follow up with various proposals to invest in India.
''It will give us a tremendous opportunity to understand the views of the Indian Government and the workings of the economy.'' The visit has been planned in conjunction with powerful Indian business organisations like the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Indian Merchants' Chamber. The local Indian Commission, including the Commissioner, Kamlesh Kumar, has played a key role in organising the mission.
''As the main purpose of our visit is to lay the groundwork, we will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral trade,'' said Mr Ebrahim.
''It will be signed by Mr Fung on behalf of the HKTDC and Mahesh Prasad of the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation.
''The Indian Government has been keen to talk to Mr Wu regarding many urgently needed infrastructure projects in the key power and transportation sectors. But, until now, Mr Wu has been unable to make the trip because of prior commitments in this region.'' The delegation has also requested its Indian hosts to arrange a visit to a 100 per cent foreign-owned factory, especially one set up by business interests from Singapore.
Businessmen from Singapore have been among the first from this region to realise the vast potential offered by India's emerging market.
In Bombay, the visitors will hold further discussions with top Indian industrialists, merchants and businessmen and meet the chief minister of the state of Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar.
They will also meet meet the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Chakravarty Rangarajan, and attend a lunch organised by the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, which will also be attended by a number of foreign investors who have already set up dealings in India.
The team is expected to meet leading industrialists like Ratan Tata, and S. Nadkarni, the head of the Securities and Exchange Board of India.