R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Feb 9: As a number of foreign companies are planning to shift their production facilities from China following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Assam government is trying to woo those companies to set up units in the State and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has already taken up the issue with the Prime Minister. The State government has also written formal letters to the Central government in this regard.

Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary told The Assam Tribune that according to information available, American, Japanese and Korean companies are planning to shift their production units from China and Assam is trying to take advantage of the situation.

He said the State government has already held talks with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) of the Government of India, Invest India, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), US-India Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce to facilitate and advise those companies to set up their production facilities in Assam as the State has “strategic locational advantage, vast natural resources, robust industrial infrastructure and reliable connectivity”.

Pointing out the advantages of setting up industries in Assam, Patowary said a significant stretch of the Asian Highways 1 and 2 passes through the State.

“The Brahmaputra and Barak are also being dredged to make navigation smoother to Bangladesh, Kolkata and beyond,” he said.

“A part of the proposed Trans-Asian Railway network, as also the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway will pass through Assam. And above all, capitals of as many as eight neighbouring countries are closer to Guwahati by air than Mumbai is,” he added.

Moreover, Assam’s location offers availability of a huge market of 800 million people in and around Southeast Asia. Assam with its favourable geographical location can take this advantage to promote investments in the State.

Assam can rejuvenate the age-old ethnic and cultural relations with South and Southeast Asian countries through cultural exchanges, students’ educational exposure programmes and people-to-people contact.

The minister, who is also looking after the Act East Policy Affairs Department of the State government, said that technical collaboration with the ASEAN countries would improve technology, skill and standard of living in the State. “The Assam government will soon set up a skill university at Mangaldai in collaboration with ITEES, Singapore to offer multi-dimensional skill training to the youths of the State,” he said.

Patowary said post the Advantage Assam summit, the State has attracted public and private sector investments of over Rs 65,000 crore. The public sector investments are to the tune of nearly Rs 45,000 crore, he said.

While petroleum and natural gas, aviation, logistics and infrastructure are some of the sectors where public sectors have invested, the private investments are mainly in sunrise sectors like pharmaceuticals and FMCG.

The State government has facilitated private sector investments of major industries like Patanjali, Dabur, ITC, Britannia, Marico, new phase expansion of Hindustan Unilever, Emami, besides major pharma industries like Sun Pharma, Ajanta Pharma, Hetero Healthcare, etc.