Assam has joined the bandwagon of Indian states that want to make the most out of geo-economic of Multi-national Corporations (MNCs) out of China. Following the COVID-19 Pandemic, many foreign companies are planning to exit China, several of them are interested in establishing themselves in India too, and the states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have already made an attempt to woo them.
But Assam doesn’t want to be left behind, and therefore the Sarbananda Sonowal government is making a move on the companies exiting China. Having kept the COVID-19 outbreak at bay- a feat that has not been achieved by many administrations across the world, the state government is now planning to attract Japanese, Korean and American companies leaving China with special emphasis on luring in Japanese companies.
Assam’s Industries Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary has unveiled the government’s grand plans to attract companies exiting China following the Pandemic. He has disclosed that the Industries and Commerce Department has engaged global consultancy firm Ernst & Young (E & Y) to help the state formulate a policy framework for attracting industries that are planning to shift their base out of China.
Assam is, in fact, keen on launching itself into an industrial powerhouse by capitalising on this opportunity. Patowary said, “It is going around that many American, Japanese and Korean companies are contemplating to shift their production facilities from China to India. The Assam government is in touch with DPIIT to facilitate the setting up the production facilities of such companies in Assam.”
Assam is pushing hard at all fronts, and the state wants to be considered for one of the three mega bulk pharma parks that the Modi government has proposed in order to reduce India’s dependence on China for API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient).
Patowary said, “We have written to Union Chemical and Fertiliser Minister D V Sadananda Gowda for giving Assam one of the proposed mega bulk Pharma Park.” He added, “We have also written to Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal to assist Assam in getting the American, Japanese and Korean companies which are shifting its base from China. We have offered fiscal incentive, dedicated officer to assist the project and land for these companies.”
Assam is also engaging commerce and industry bodies in the concerned countries, in order to put Assam on the world map as an attractive manufacturing destination. The state government is engaging with the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), the US- India Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce to advise companies in this regard.
Assam government is, in particular, interested in wooing the Japanese companies, and Patowary further disclosed, “Industries and Commerce Department is also in touch with DPIIT and JETRO for setting up of a Japanese Industrial Township in Assam to attract investment from Japanese industries.”
Japan has been one of the most significant investors in Assam and the Northeast, much to the anguish of Beijing which is why the annual Indo-Japan Summit to be attended by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Modi was also scheduled to be held at Guwahati last year, though it had to be cancelled because of the anti-CAA agitation.
Now, it makes a lot of sense for the Assam government to specifically target the Japanese companies exiting China, as the Japanese have the first-hand experience of investing in Assam and the entire North-eastern region of India, thus wooing them should not be much of a challenge for the state government.
Assam offers some of the most prolific conditions- the grandeur of the Brahmaputra and its fertile plains, a plethora of natural resources, cheap labour, availability of land and a tilt of the state towards industrialisation- the economy of the state is dominated by industries that contribute 39 per cent towards its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), apart from proving directly employing around 4 lakh people and indirectly employing 20 lakh people.
Ever since the Modi government came to power, there has been rampant construction of highways and world-class roads in Assam and the rest of the Northeast. What better opportunity than a geo-economic shift of companies out of China to capitalise upon this readily available infrastructure?
However, due to sheer political incompetence and lack of administrative will, the vast potential of the state could never really be tapped. But with an efficient BJP government in place, Assam is becoming ambitious and doesn’t want to be left behind in a nationwide race to draw the maximum leverage out of companies exiting China.
The immense potential of the state is not lost on the present Sonowal government, and the Industries Minister Patowary has highlighted the relative advantage that the state enjoys- locational advantage, vast natural resources and a robust industrial infrastructure. The state of Assam has thus formulated a fool-proof strategy to woo companies shifting their manufacturing base out of China.