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Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel at India Pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai today. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: For the western Indian state of Gujarat, Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, a biennial event conceptualised by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of the state, has been one of the most important platforms to attract foreign direct investments (FDI) to the state.

With the state set to host the tenth edition of the summit that was launched by Modi in 2003, incumbent chief minister Bhupendra Patel is making his maiden visit to the UAE to promote the event before the global investor community. Patel visited the India Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai today. He is leading a high-level delegation to the UAE. Riding on Expo 2020 Dubai’s international platform, the delegation will engage with dignitaries, global investor community, heads of companies, trade and industry chambers to invite them to the tenth Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit scheduled from January 10 to 12, 2022, in Gandhinagar. The delegation is meeting Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman and CEO, DP World. The Gujarat chief minister’s delegation is also slated to hold a Vibrant Gujarat Roadshow in Dubai later today.

According to industry reports, at $22 billion (Dh80.91 billion), Gujarat received the highest amount of FDI in India for the financial year 2020-2021, accounting for 37 per cent of the total FDI received in the country. The summit aims to boost it even further.

In an exclusive interview ahead of his three-day trip that began on Wednesday, Patel told Gulf News about how the visiting delegation would get ample mileage out of Expo 2020 Dubai in garnering international support for the upcoming edition of the summit, that will be inaugurated by Modi.

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Bhupendra Patel with Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade. Image Credit: Supplied

Following are excerpts from the interview with Patel:

Question: With the evolving COVID-19 pandemic situation, how are you preparing to welcome international participants to the global summit? Will it be run on a hybrid mode?

BHUPENDRA PATEL: We are closely monitoring the developments. The organising committee shall diligently uphold COVID-19 protocols and adopt all safety procedures as issued by local and international authorities.

Question: How big has the overall impact of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit been? How instrumental has it been in attracting FDI to Gujarat?

Gujarat has taken great strides in developing a resilient, responsive and vibrant economy over the last couple of decades. Today, Gujarat is the most industrialised state in India and continues to propel India’s growth agenda through inclusive and sustainable development. The Vibrant Gujarat Global Summits have played a catalytic role in attracting investments and businesses to the state.

With a meagre 5 per cent of India’s population, Gujarat contributes 8 per cent to India’s GDP [gross domestic product], 17 per cent of industrial output and more than 20 per cent of India’s exports. Gujarat manufacturing sector accounts for 37.5 per cent of state GDP, which is higher than the national average of 17 per cent. Gujarat attracted the highest FDI equity inflows worth $21.9 billion during the financial year 2020-2021, which is 37 per cent of the total FDI equity inflows across states in India.

According to the Industrial Entrepreneurs Memorandum (IEM) data released by DPIIT, Gujarat reported actual investment worth $5.2 billion, based on the IEM Part B filed for the month of January 2021 and February 2021. With this, Gujarat has also attained top position in domestic investments, with a lion’s share of 60 per cent in the actual investment reported in India based on the IEM Part B filed.

Gujarat also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in India at 3.4 per cent, according to a survey report by National Statistical Office, Government of India.

Gujarat tops the chart in sectors such as textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, gems and jewellery, renewable energy maritime and automobiles.

Question: What can the participants look forward to at the summit?

In 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the clarion call for ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (‘self-reliant India’), which aims to use India’s strengths, skills and capabilities for global good.

In line with this vision, the theme of the tenth edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2022 is ‘From Aatmanirbhar Gujarat To Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (‘from a self-reliant Gujarat to a self-reliant India’).

The Summit will deliberate on key national initiatives as well as touch upon topics of global relevance, which include sustainable infrastructure and manufacturing, National Hydrogen Mission, renewable energy, electric mobility and futuristics technologies. This summit will provide a platform to policy-makers, captains of global industries and thought leaders for brainstorming about contemporary global trends, those relating to inclusive socio-economic development and to discuss opportunities for strategic partnerships, trade and investments.

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Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said Gujarat was the first Indian state to participate in Expo 2020 Dubai as part of the India Pavilion, between October 1-14. Image Credit: Supplied

Question: Gujarat’s ties with the UAE are centuries-old. Can we have some details about the trade relations?

India and the UAE have shared trade links through the centuries. Trade, which was dominated by traditional items such as dates, pearls and fishing, underwent a sharp change after the discovery of oil in the UAE (oil exports began from Abu Dhabi in 1962).

The real impetus, however, started after Dubai positioned itself as a regional trading hub by the early 1990s and about the same time, the economic liberalisation process started in India. Growing India-UAE economic and commercial relations contribute to the stability and strength of a rapidly diversifying and deepening bilateral relationship between the two countries.

UAE is India’s third-largest trading partner with imports from UAE amounting to $26.62 billion in the financial year 2020-2021. Gujarat accounted for 19 per cent ($3.2 billion) of the total exports from India to UAE ($16.7 billion) in 2020-2021.

The Indian expatriate community of approximately 3.3 million is the largest ethnic community in UAE constituting roughly 30 per cent of the country’s population. Among the Indian states, Gujarat also constitutes a significant portion of the Indian population in UAE.

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Question: How do you see Expo 2020 Dubai as a platform to attract global investors to the summit?

Expo 2020 Dubai is one of the largest global events that is expected to have participants from more than 190 countries. Large corporate houses and multinational institutions are participating in Expo 2020 Dubai and more than 25 million visitors are expected to attend the event, making it an ideal destination to promote the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit. This is the most ideal platform to interact, collaborate and invite countries for the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2022. I would like to mention here that Gujarat was the first Indian state to participate in Expo 2020 Dubai as part of the India Pavilion, between October 1-14.

Question: In which sectors are you seeking investments and what are the highlights of the summit?

As a precursor to the summit, this year, we introduced a lot of pre-summit events such as Local goes Global: Export-Led Growth, International Conference of Academic Institutions, Textiles, Agro and Food processing and Startups etc. Pre-summit events shall start from this month and will be organised across Gujarat.

The Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2022 will host flagship events on key national initiatives as well as emerging global topics such as: PM GatiShakti, Production Linked Incentive, Reducing Compliance Burden, Green Hydrogen, Renewable Energy, Electric Mobility and Futuristic Technology and Innovation. We will also be organising a Roundtable with global financial institutions during the summit.

Question: How will you be working with the Indian missions and business councils in the UAE?

The Indian mission and business councils in the UAE are helping us to invite leading business leaders/companies who are looking to invest in India. Several keynote speakers and panelists for the summit have been identified and have been invited through them.

We are also expecting the UAE business councils to bring large delegations that will explore investment and bilateral trade opportunities with Gujarat.

They have also started promoting the summit through various print and social media channels.

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