Indian Chamber of Commerce BIMSTEC conclave conducted a Special Plenary Session on “BIMSTEC Investment Forum: Challenges and Opportunities” on Tuesday 13th June at the Hyatt Regency. This forum brought together key stakeholders, investors, and policymakers from the Bay of Bengal region to address the challenges and opportunities in investment. With a combined GDP of almost US $2.88 trillion and a population of 1.67 billion, the BIMSTEC region offers investors a sizable market with tremendous potential. Despite their close proximity and historical ties, the BIMSTEC countries have received little foreign direct investment (FDI). To discuss on this topic many eminent personalities like Mr. Ameya Prabhu, Sr. Vice President, Indian Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Sushil Bhatta, CEO Investment Board, Nepal, Mr. Karma Bonpo, Hon’ble Secretary, Commerce & Industries Department, Government of Sikkim, Mr. Thant Sin Lwin, DG, DICA, Ministry of Investment & Foreign Economic Relations, Myanmar, Mr. Hage Tari, Secretary, Industry & Commerce, Government of Arunachal Pradesh, Mr. Vishnu Kumar Agarwal, President, Confederation of Nepalese Industries, Nepal, Mr. Md. Sameer Sattar, President Dhaka Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh, Ms. Naaz Farhana Ahmed, President of DWCCI, Bangladesh, Mr. M K Saharia, Chairman, Indian Chamber of Commerce North East Council, Mr. M Shoeb Chowdhury, Vice President IBCCI and Former Advisor, Commonwealth Business Council, London and Raju Mishra, Representative of West Bengal Government were present.
During the session, participants discussed the many difficulties in luring investments to the BIMSTEC region. Potential investors are put off by these difficulties, which include procedural and policy bottlenecks. The forum also highlighted achievements and prospects in the area, with an emphasis on luring sustainable investments that support equitable growth and economic development. The BIMSTEC Investment Forum did provide an excellent opportunity for networking, knowledge exchange, and cooperation between investors, business executives, and decision-makers in government. The discussion tried to pinpoint workable solutions and suggestions for removing investment roadblocks and developing an environment that encourages both domestic and foreign investment.
Delegates discuss on investments opportunities in Indian States:
- Mr. Raju Mishra initiated the conversation with the scope and opportunities in Bengal. West Bengal, being the gateway to North East India and South East Asia, believes it can be the growth pole of development instead of a centre. He also said the West Bengal government is on its way to developing 22 industrial parks based on its 22 geographical indications. Tourism being the pivot for the development of all the participating states and countries, Mr. Mishra calls for cultural integration with BIMSTEC. Arunachal Pradesh is the dominant region for ecological balances, Sikkim is the hundred percent organic state, Nepal’s spiritual, natural, and health tourism can make the perfect integration with Bangladesh, the gifted nation with mountains, rivers, and deltas.
- Hydropower was one of the hot topics of today’s conclave. Arunachal Pradesh is confident about its 50,000megawatt hydropower projects, along with its mini hydropower projects. Sushil Bhatta, CEO of the Investment Board of Nepal, explained how Nepal is becoming the trusted nation for the Foreign Direct Investment with the development in Hydropower, Solar Energy.
- BIMSTEC participating states and countries are geographically well strategised. Sikkim, being the gateway to Bhutan, China, and Nepal, is developing its roadways. Kolkata is the cornerstone for connectivity to the north eastern states. Arunachal Pradesh is a more crucial region to invest in due to its favourable environment and proximity to Bhutan, China, and Myanmar. Mr. Sushil Bhatta confirmed that extra-high-voltage transmission has already started, with some in the planning stage, and some in construction. Sikkim’s Indo Myanmar trade route enhanced imports and exports.
- Every participating state and nation has its unique set of resources, whether natural for Arunachal, Sikkim, or human for Bangladesh. Mr. Hage Tari is pleased of his company’s variety and resources. They have adventure tourism, such as paragliding and river rafting. The new mineral strategy was explained to us by Mr. Raju Mishra. Miss Naaz Farhana Ahmed informed us about the availability of labour and their global success story.
- With 13 private institutions, three state universities, and one central university, Sikkim is on its path to becoming an education centre. They also affirmed that the government intends to expand and develop in the fields of animation, gaming, and special effects. Finally, Mr. Raju Mishra called for cultural inclusion at the end of the session.
Another Panel discussion on Investment Enhancement across BIMSTEC sectors:
- Bangladesh will be a developing country by 2026, and a developed one by 2041. Its strategic location is advantageous to growth. Its regional ports account for 33% of marine commerce, with sea connections linking the eastern and western hemispheres. He emphasised the significance of the Common Investment Treaty in establishing a linking policy for cross-border commerce.
- Nepal is benefiting from India’s investment in its banking industry. Banks are sometimes referred to as dependable. They reached an agreement with India. Nepal is about to sell India 10,000 megawatts of electricity. They’re on their way to Bangladesh to export electricity. The Financial Ministry is seeking investors to help create industrial parks and public-private collaborations.
- Finally, the discussion closed with a summary of potential and investments, and all participants were fairly confident in the power of BIMSTEC, as it enhanced their reach post-COVID. BIMSTEC, the 4.9 trillion-dollar economy, is certain that things will improve.