Italian businesses eye deals worth 640 bn euros in India


Rome : Companies from Italy’s main business association Confindustria will visit the Indian capital New Delhi in October in a bid to clinch deals on infrastructure projects worth 640 billion euros.

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Confindustria’s head, Emma Marcegaglia, will lead the delegation to India – one of Asia’s economic powerhouses.

“Our objective is to further strengthen our relationship with the Indian economy. There’s great potential for growth,” said Marcegaglia, recalling that Italy and India traded around six billion euros of goods and services in 2009.

“2011 is India’s year,” said Marcegaglia.

India’s gross domestic product grew 8.9 percent in the third quarter of 2010.

Driven by strong internal demand that weathered the global recession, India’s economy is expected to expand 8.8 percent in 2010, according to forecasts.

It is predicted to become the world’s third largest economy by 2020-25.

“We want to work together side by side to solve our problems and bolster our ties,” said Marcegaglia.

Ahead of the Confindustria visit in late October, delegations from the infrastructure, energy, automobile and other sectors will attend business forums in New Delhi in March, April and October.

Marcegaglia, Italy’s Industry Minister Paolo Romani and representatives of major companies eyeing business with India this week met Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and the head of India’s main business association FICCI, Rajan Bharti Mittal in Rome.

The Italian companies included engineering firm Tecnimont, construction companies Astaldi and Audostrade, Montante and coffee maker Lavazza, which last week announced it would set up its first coffee plant in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Lavazza, which bought India’s second-biggest coffee shop chain Barista Coffee Company and Indian coffee vending company Fresh & Honest Cafe in 2007, expects India to become its second largest market after Italy, the company said last Friday.

Italy and India Monday decided to set up a joint business council, a bilateral trade cooperation body, and to work together in 10 areas including internet and communications technology, infrastructure and manufacturing and elections.

The two countries decided to set up the joint business council during a meeting in Rome on Monday between Sharma and Romani.

“Italy is the world’s largest democracy and its middle class is expanding,” said Romani. “It is going to be worth an enormous amount economically in the coming years.”

Romani moved to dispel fears that many firms could re-locate to India, taking advantage of low labour costs.