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Indian states marketing themselves in Canada to attract business

While the US has always been a favoured destination, states are gradually realising Canada also has its advantages.

world Updated: Nov 02, 2017 23:50 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Assam minister Chandra Mohan Patowary (second from right), at an event organised by the Indo Canadian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) in Toronto. Also seen are ICCC president Kanwar Dhanjal (second from left) and India’s consul general in Toronto Dinesh Bhatia (extreme right).
Assam minister Chandra Mohan Patowary (second from right), at an event organised by the Indo Canadian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) in Toronto. Also seen are ICCC president Kanwar Dhanjal (second from left) and India’s consul general in Toronto Dinesh Bhatia (extreme right).(HT Photo)

Canadian provinces have sent several delegations to India in recent times to attract business and investment, and Indian states have now started reciprocating, with a series of visits to Canada to market themselves.

The latest in these delegations from India was from Assam, which was in Toronto, the commercial capital of Canada, to promote the northeastern state ahead of its Advantage Assam Global Investors Summit in February.

That individual states are getting marketing savvy instead of being dependent on the central government, was underscored by the reality that this is perhaps the first time Assam has stepped out for an international roadshow, one that commenced in Canada in the last days of October and continued on to the US and the United Kingdom.

“What we have, if I don’t speak, how do you know? We have to speak,” said Chandra Mohan Patowary, Assam’s minister for industries and commerce, who led the six-member delegation.

“The whole aim of this roadshow is to give one exposure to Assam, that Assam is a place of potential,” he said, while selling the state as a gateway to Southeast Asia.

Other states that have attempted to woo Canadian investors in recent times include Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal and Gujarat, which has been a pioneer in this area.

“It is good to see exchanges of provincial level delegations to enhance economic ties, to promote trade and attract investment,” India’s consul general in Toronto, Dinesh Bhatia, said.

Among the groups that the Assam delegation interacted with was the Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC).

“You need to go out to get the investors. Same thing from here, all the provinces are going outside,” Kanwar Dhanjal, the chamber’s president, pointed out, referring to the multiple Canadian provinces, including Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, that have sent delegations within the last couple of years to attract Indian investors.

ICCC’s vice president Devika Penekelapati is convinced that states need to hard sell themselves, as she said: “They are the better advocates to pitch the incentives and also the opportunities in the state. Union delegations can only highlight the major industries and not the micro-industries, where the niche market is. A localised delegation at the state-level would highlight those untapped opportunities.”

While the US has always been a favoured destination, states are gradually realising Canada also has its advantages. Assam, for instance, is already exploring the possibility of a partnership with the Canadian province of Alberta.

ICCC will send a trade mission to India in January and visit half a dozen states in an effort to further strengthen this bi-directional momentum.