The Council of EU Chambers of Commerce in India (EU Chambers) has organized EU Day 2016 on 12th May 2016 at the Crystal Room, The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai
The Council of EU Chambers of Commerce in India, in association with the Delegation of European Union to India and the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Netherlands Mumbai has organized EU Day celebration in Mumbai.
EU as an economic block represents 28-member countries in Europe. And, The Council of EU Chambers of Commerce in India represents business interest of these 28 EU member countries with INDIA and vice versa.
The event was graced by galaxy of dignitaries: Ambassador , Consul Generals not only from EU member nations but also from other non-EU nations.
Mr Chandramowli Srinivasan, President of the Council welcomed Mr. Swadheen Kshatriya ,IAS, Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra. Mr. Shyam Lal Goyal (IAS), Principal Secretary, Government of Maharashtra. His Excellency Mr. Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador, Delegation to European Union to India, Mr. Cesare Onestini, Minister Counsellor, Deputy Ambassador, Delegation of European Union to India and all present at the occasion.
He briefly introduced the Council of EU Chambers as one of the foremost trade promotion organization in India established way back in 1992 to promote, foster, economical and commercial trade relations between India & EU. He said since its inception the Chamber is committed to promoting business relations and partnership between EU and India. With structural reforms getting in place by the Government and the extremely active foreign policy these would only further enlarge the scope of the Council’s activities in India.
The Council of EU Chamber of Commerce in India on its part has been serving its members to realise their members’ objective of entering European markets through dissemination of information, networking opportunities, thought leadership conferences, workshops, seminars and arranging visits of Indian companies to the EU. He further announced the gathering that The Council of EU Chamber of Commerce in India is mounting a Business Delegation this year.
He also talked about the 13th summit between the European Union and India which took place in Brussels this March 2016. He said during the Summit leaders reconfirmed their commitment to give new momentum to the bilateral relationships endorsing the EU India agenda for action 2020 as a common roadmap jointly guide and strengthen the India EU strategic partnership in the next five years.
Mr. Geoffrey van Leeuwen, Consul General, Consulate of General of the Kingdom of Netherlands in his introductory speech thanked the organizers for giving him the opportunity to join hands in organizing the event as local EU Presidency.
I know that most of us here in Mumbai and EU stand for the biggest trading partner and biggest investor. But coming from Netherlands EU is much faster. Yes, Holland has a 6th biggest exporter in the world and benefited enormously from a colonial market of easy access to over 300 million people. But it sacrifices the longest period of peace in Europe before we known.
I also know if you read papers here in India you see EU is struggling all over the problems you were having the economic crisis etc. You see the refugees also wanting to come to Europe than Europe is seen for stability and peace which we are proud off. I am sure the problems and obstacles which are facing now are minor to the obstacles of war and devastations we have seen in the past we overcomed. The Dutch presidency has been working for the last couple of hard to try to commission to overcome those obstacles and we are pretty sure that the EU Ambassador will talk a little bit about the programme the EU is doing in India. This month we also celebrate 60 years of Dutch consulate in Mumbai. So we have a long history in Mumbai and we hope for a long future as well to get with EU.
H.E Mr. Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union to India thanked EU Chamber for organizing this event. He said this is a very special occasion which has been celebrated in Europe. Sometime ago, I met Chief Minister and we discuss the possibilities for expanding and deepening cooperation between the European Union and Maharashtra. Thank you very much for your support and please convey my best regards to the Chief Minister.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Europe Day Celebrations today, we will celebrate the ideas of peace, unity and democracy that bind Europe together. Sixty six years ago, the then French Foreign Minister, Mr. Robert Schuman laid down a vision for Europe that has grown into a union of a 28 member nation states. It is true now we are facing certain difficulties and uncertainties. The way of migrants that are heading for Europe possesses a challenge. The future of one of the biggest members state of EU in the European Union will be decided through referendum at the end of June. These are some of the big issues which understandably trigger a debate on the scope and ambitions of European Union in future. But I am officially and personally absolutely confident that as it has happened many times in the past such difficulties will be overcome and intense debates will result in even strongly union and idea of European integration has proved to be the winning qualm over the last 60 years despite all difficulties and problems and I am absolutely convinced that this idea will continue to flourish in the future. Ladies & Gentlemen the European Union is a project for peace as it was underlined by the previous speakers for peace, stability, prosperity seeks partners who share our ideas and vision. In the globalized world it is impossible to work and to solve pressing issues along even if we represent 28 member states.
India has been a close friend of European Union for decades. In particular, since we launched our strategic partnership in 2004. The recent summit meeting on 30th March in Brussels our leaders once again re-launched EU India relations and agreed to strengthen cooperation over the next years over next decades and this our ideas and action plans is part of documents which were adopted by our leaders. Overall the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi President Tuss President unke reaffirmed the close friendship between the European Union and India. The EU and India will work closely on mutual interest and the many from the fight against terrorism, cooperation on the security measures, matters on foreign policy to the promotion of trade and investments for sustainable growth and sustainable development to supporting India’s vision of Smart Cities, clean rivers or Make in India. We are proud as it was mentioned that the EU is the first trading and investment partner of India. The two way trade in goods in 2015 reached a level of 100 billion Euros and what is extremely important that the trade between the European Union and India is very much balanced which is not the case for many other important trading partners for India.
As far as services, the total stands it at around 23 billion Euros and again is very balanced. Altogether, our trade and services reached a level of 100 billion euros. At the same time cumulatively European companies had invested in this country since 2004 more than 200 billion US Dollars and by large Europe is the largest investor in India. According to some estimates European companies provide direct jobs directly to more than over 100 million Indian citizens, indirectly to more than 5 million people here. The figures I have just mentioned are really very impressive. However, my conviction, my assessment is that these figures still below the existing potential. The potential for our economy and trade cooperation is much higher and convinced and was much underlined by the leaders of India and European Union that European Union’s agenda for jobs, growth fairness and democratic change and India’s Sabka Saath & Sabka Vikas initiative create opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation. India has embarked on ambitious reform to improve the business environment, create jobs and increase exports. We welcome this trend and EU will continue to be India’s natural business partner. At the latest summit meeting our leaders confirmed their commitment to discuss how to establish even more favourable conditions for bilateral trade and economic exchange and of course, one of the key points in the agenda was a possible free trade agreement between India and EU. Both sides leaders expressed the full commitment to continue discussions how to resume negotiations, how to establish a level of our ambitions. Because, we as an European Union were absolutely convinced and this reflected in our economic achievement that the trade liberalization is one of the most important instruments for rejuvenating economy and to make each other economy more competitive.
At the same time the leaders established a number of partnerships between European Union and India. The EU India water partnership and EU India clean energy and climate partnership. And this partnership will drive our cooperation in sectors which are extremely important for India developments and I mean the flagship projects declared by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. We as a European Union already contribute to the implementation of projects and of course we have our own interest as well but the key basic element for bilateral cooperation is mutually beneficial to cooperation. That’s why I am absolutely convinced that the European companies are able to provide some business solutions, some technologies which India is in need now and at the same time India offers better and better business environment and investment opportunities. These partnership platforms I just mentioned are designed to facilitate such cooperation. Because the overall objective of partnership is to match businesses from both sides the Government from both sides to produce practical results.
I was thinking about new platform which will be EU India organization Partnership. We are going to launch this partnership very soon and in this context I would like to underline that since sometime back European Union and the state of Maharashtra have developed already a certain expertise implement certain projects concerning urban development, energy efficiency. I discussed all these issues with Chief Minister some time ago and we have got a green line to continue such action and very soon we will launch another project to find out what are the real needs and how the European businesses may contribute to the implementation of all these ambitious projects and as many of our guests and this event is co-organized by the Council of European Union Chambers and lot of you are here representing European and Indian companies having ties with Europe.
I would like to underline the importance of establishing a very good line of communication between me and my Delegation of European Union institutions and business community. We have a very well developed dialogue at different levels with the Indian Government at federal level and state levels. In case of important states and we are able to convey your messages to discuss with the Indian Government business environments and that why we need inputs from you. We need to get some instruments and arguments which will help us to continue such discussions with Indian Government. I am very enthusiastic about the EU India relations and I would like to express once again my sincere thanks to the Government of Maharashtra and to Chief Minister the personal engagement in the implementing our partnership which is a mutually beneficial. And at the same time I would like to express my thanks to you for hosting here so many consulates, Consul General, European Union members states, European businesses, European Business organizations. Before finalizing allow me to have a few personal remarks. I am really happy to be an Ambassador of the European Union to India. I took my office only last November and since then I enjoyed a great hospitality and friendship rendered to me by Government of India, by the State Governments and rendered by the people of India. I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for this. I am not new in the dealing relations between European Union and India. I was around the table in 2004 when we launched our strategic partnership and I was in Brussels again in last March to re-launch these negotiations. As it was mentioned I am very open to contacts at different levels with European Business Community representatives of the European companies, European Governments and State Government of Maharashtra. I can declare that not to spare my efforts to further strengthen our relations to the benefit of our people. As I mentioned, I am very enthusiastic and very open and I want to be creative and innovative as you have shown to me so far and very open for new ideas and will work together to bring good results to people from India and the European Union.
Speaking at the celebrations, the Chief Guest of the grand celebration, Mr Swadheen Kshatriya (IAS), Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra thanked His Excellency Mr. Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union to India, Mr. Chandramowli Srinivasan, President, The Council of EU Chambers of Commerce in India, Mr. Geoffrey van Leeuwen, Consul General, Consulate of General of the Kingdom of Netherlands and other Consul Generals of the countries who are the members of the European Unions and Dr. Renu Shome, Director, The Council of EU Chambers of Commerce in India for inviting him.
Ladies & Gentlemen, First of all I would like to extend a very hearty congratulations to all the participants here on behalf of the Government of Maharashtra on behalf of the Honorable Chief Minister of Maharashtra, the people of my state and my personal congratulations and best wishes to all of you.
It was very happy to hear about the tremendous partnership between India and the European Union and how we are having a partnership which is growing day by day. I would not repeat those things which have already been stated over her by my illustrious predecessors and by my earlier speakers. What I would like to present today is little bit information of the state of Maharashtra and why the European Union should be looking at India in general but Maharashtra in particular, so I will try to dwell on that subject.
All of you, I am sure are aware of the fact that Maharashtra is one of the most progressive states of our country. It is the most industrialized, the most rapidly urbanizing the fastest urbanizing state. 50% of the population is now urban. This change has happened because we embarked on a policy of economic liberalization, globalization and economic reforms. There is a dramatic change in the state of my Maharashtra with Mumbai as the capital which in the earlier days. All of you knew as Bombay is now called as Mumbai.
But this rapid change has thrown up some problems and certain challenges and some issues before us. I think those are the areas which the European and the state of Maharashtra can come together. These challenges are the challenges of an explosion of population in the urban areas and that has brought out the need for looking at the urban transport, the way in which we are able to disposed of our waste and garbage. A tremendous amount of gap between what is required and is available has occurred and hence the Government of India has announced its a programme called that we are going to build Smart Cities. So I think Smart Cities are one areas in which the European Union and the State of Maharashtra can come together. Smart Cities will also include a large number of urban challenges which we need to address together. The expertise, the experience that you all have had in handling these problems can be immense use for us. For example, we have now embarked on now having a second international airport at Navi Mumbai. And you must have read in the newspaper that the competitive bidding is on for the international airport that is coming up in Navi Mumbai.
The second area is that we are trying to make Mumbai with Navi Mumbai with a bridge over the sea which will be about 22 Kms and may be some of you must have read that the competitive bidding for constructing 22 Kms of sea over bridge is also on. So these are some of the areas we are now going to come up with the competitive bidding on coastal road all around Mumbai. We are going in for a coastal road all around Mumbai. We are going in for a network of Metro, we are going in for Monorail. We want to have a seamless transport in our cities and we see some examples in your countries where we find that its a really seamless transport. We want to encourage public transport; we want to discourage use of individual or private transport.
These are the issues which we would like European Union and the state of Maharashtra to come together. What are we offering are offering as mentioned by His Excellency that we have undertaken a major reform for welcoming foreign direct investment. And for that we have joint the campaign launched by the Government of India which is called popularly as Make in India and we about a month ago we had the Make in India week celebrated in the city of Mumbai and there was a huge response from all over the world countries came and showed interest of what are the areas in which they participate and the maximum number of MOUs which were signed were pertaining to the state of Maharashtra.
I remember correctly about 2700 MOUs which have been signed. Tremendous amount of interest is here. The kind of environment and the kind of manpower, the kind of technical knowledge that is available the kind of IT hub that is there in this state is unparalleled. The kind of industrial discipline which you will find is also unique to the state of Maharashtra. So we have embarked on not only on Make in India and Make in Maharashtra campaign. We have also embarked on ease of doing business and the ease of doing business welcomes any investments. We are trying to cut down red tape, we are trying to cut down a legacy, I would say of red tape and white cap. We are saying for example some examples would be the electric connection which would to take several weeks is now going to take several days. Constructions permit which used to take probably at one time the World Bank said it takes almost 300 days is now down to 60 days either we give the permission or reject but we will be not keep it pending.
We have introduced electronic platforms in which we will have a common application form you won’t have to run from pillar to post. These are the things, a single window system we have. As His Excellency mentioned the Chief Minister of our State whom you happened to meet, he is personally monitoring the Make in India and Make in Maharashtra campaign. Any difficulty any problem trade industry commerce comes across can be brought to the notice of highest level and we will be there to help you out. There have been a lot of examples whether I don’t know my principle secretary industries is here in which individual companies had any problem came to the Government and the Chief Minister himself intervened and said no this problem has to be solved in this fashion within this much time. So these are the areas in which we can come together and we look forward to a lot of greater cooperation between European Union. Tourism is another sector which I thought I would like to make a passing reference.
We have decided to celebrate year 2017 as a year of Tourism in Maharashtra and we are going to welcome tourism from all over the world. Those who are in Mumbai and those who had an opportunity and those who have not yet had an opportunity, should go around the state of Maharashtra which has a wonderful historical places, ancient places to go back to thousands of year. The very famous world heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora is one example. We have some lovely forests, rich wildlife. We have tigers in our states you must all go and have a look at it. Unfortunately, last few years we had a series of failure of rains and monsoon, so this time we are going through a difficult time on our rural areas of drinking water, scarcity but good news is that the metrological department of India has predicted that this year its going to be very good monsoon. They told me it’s going to be more than normal. They have mentioned that it’s going to be 128% of monsoon in my state of Maharashtra.
The farmers are eagerly waiting for that and it’s going to be timely arrival so it will mean that in the first week of June itself we will have the monsoon and I can assure you that we have recorded 8% growth during the financial year which came to an end on 31st March. And if this year the monsoon is on time and if it is plenty and good rain this state will definitely record a growth which will record a double digit growth. With that I wish you all the best and let us pray to god that the rain comes early to the state of Maharashtra.
While proposing the vote of thanks, Dr Renu Shome, Director of the Council thanked Mr. Swadheen Kshatriya, Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, H. E Mr. Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador, Delegation of European Union to India, Mr. Cesare Onestini, Minister Counsellor, Deputy Head, Delegation of European Union to India, Mr. Geoffrey van Leeuwen, Consul General, Consulate of General of the Kingdom of Netherlands, Members of media and distinguished guests.
She specially thanked EU Ambassador and Deputy Ambassador whose continuous support has helped to organize this event. She said we are happy to inform you that EU India Chambers has undertaken many activities in the past few years with a purpose to getting the industry together and sharing its common view in promoting trade and commerce between India and European Union.
She thanked sponsors to make the event successful . The main sponsor- Allcargo Logistics Ltd. and other sponsors viz. SKF India Ltd., Can-Pack India Ltd. Tata Consultancy Services, Seahorse Ship Agencies Pvt. Ltd., NRB Bearings Ltd., AZB & Partner and also our hamper sponsors- Parle Products Pvt. Ltd., Britannia Industries Ltd., Brugge Chocolatarie, Videocon Industries Ltd. Jack Daniels, Sula Vineyards Pvt. Ltd., UB Group, Aspri Spirits Pvt. Ltd. and also kit sponsor Changeover EFC.