Overseas Indians meet in Singapore means business

October 7th, 2008 - 2:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore, Oct 7 (IANS) Promoting business and boosting trade and investment between India and the rest of Asia will be the guiding mantra at the ‘mini’ Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) which begins in Singapore later this week. The Oct 10-11 Singapore meeting is the second mini PBD being organised outside India. The previous one was held in New York in September last year.

The theme of the mini PBD is ‘Towards a Dynamic Diaspora’. It is being organised by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in partnership with the Singapore Indian Chamber of COmmerce and Industry (SICCI), and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The Singapore conference will be strictly business. Conference participants, many of them CEOs of companies, top leaders from government and the banking and financial sectors will focus on ways to integrate Indian businesses into the Southeast and East Asian economies and promote investments both to and from India.

The Pravasi meet begins with an inaugural dinner Thursday. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will inaugurate the session Oct 10 while President H.R. Nathan will be guest of honour at a gala dinner hosted the same evening.

The venues are the Ritz Carlton Millennia Singapore Hotel and the Suntech Singapore International COnvention and Exhibition Centre.

Singapore’s role as a springboard for Indian companies wanting to trade and invest in the region has been evident in recent years and has gained particular momentum since India and Singapore signed a Comprehensive Economic and Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in 2005.

Bilateral trade has jumped to cross $16 billion in 2007. More than 3,000 Indian companies are registered in Singapore, spanning a diverse spectrum of businesses, including IT services, scientific R&D, logistics and manufacturing.

Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said Indian companies “see Singapore as a base from which they can tap into the regional and global markets, in part by virtue of the network of free trade agreements and economic arrangements” that Singapore has with other countries.

The two working days of the conference on Friday and Saturday have been divided into 12 sessions focussed among others on India’s future, science and technology, tourism and hospitality, finance and banking, sustainable development, infrastructure growth and arbitration and business dispute resolution.

“It’s an extraordinary conference to gain insight into the business and investment opportunities in India,” said Vijay Iyengar, chairman of SICCI, adding that the conference provides an opportunity “for Singapore to strengthen its position as an ideal gateway to reach out to the region and beyond”.

All of Singapore’s top leaders, from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong will be addressing or interacting with the delegates in a measure of the high priority that the city state’s government is according to the conference.

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal will be speaking to the conference delegates, as will Navinchandra Ramgoolam, prime minister of Mauritius.

The next main Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in India will be at Chennai Jan 8-9, 2009.

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