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India is poised to be a five trillion dollar economy by 2025. Within this, the stated goal for the state of Maharashtra is to be a sub-national economy with a trillion dollar target in this vision.

A panel discussion titled ‘The Sub National Opportunities in the Indian Story, Realising the trillion-dollar economy vision’, organized as part of the Expo 2020 Dubai, looked at how India can achieve this target with a special focus on Maharashtra.

The panel delved into how the state can boost exports, cutting the red tape to make land available to investors, and what the UAE and Maharashtra can do in partnership.

(Clockwise from top left) Subhash Desai, minister for industries and Mining, Maharashtra; P. Anbalagan, IAS, CEO, MIDC; Yogesh Mehta, CEO, Petrochem Middle East, UAE; Abdulla Al Gurg, member of the board of directors, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, UAE; and Suresh Kumar, chairman, IBPC, Dubai, UAE.
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(Clockwise from top left) Subhash Desai, minister for industries and Mining, Maharashtra; P. Anbalagan, IAS, CEO, MIDC; Yogesh Mehta, CEO, Petrochem Middle East, UAE; Abdulla Al Gurg, member of the board of directors, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, UAE; and Suresh Kumar, chairman, IBPC, Dubai, UAE.

The pandemic has hit economies both at the state and national levels and Maharashtra was no exception. At the onset of the pandemic, the state government opened up the industrial corridors, allowed industry to function by setting covid-appropriate behaviour and permitted the labour force to move around. That helped with a quick recovery. “Maharashtra is the fastest growing economy in the country and has set a target to contribute $1 trillion to the economy by 2025. Now, we are looking forward to meet our goal through three thrust areas—strengthening our exports, infrastructure development for which we are investing more than $40 billion, and economic initiatives in the form of attractive industrial policies," said Subhash Desai, minister for industries and mining, Maharashtra.

Magnetic Maharashtra, as it is called, offers a combination of skilled educated manpower and good infrastructure to attract investments. On the exports front, there can be a bilateral link from Mumbai to Dubai to promote trade between the two port cities that share a direct transport link via sea. “The objective is very clearly set out in the partnership agreement between India and the UAE. There is a $75 billion investment target and Maharashtra is ready with the projects for this too. The UAE is focussing on supply chain security and the ideal partnership would be where manufacturing is done in Maharashtra and the last mile storage happens in the UAE to address the strategic priorities at both ends," said Suresh Kumar, chairman, Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC), Dubai, UAE.

India and the UAE have shared a legacy relationship on bilateral trade that spans over 70-80 years. “There is a lot of opportunity on the table and I think the coming five years may just shape this development. The appetite from a private sector perspective is huge. Finding those channels and pointing them down is something that I would urge highly to have," said Abdulla Al Gurg, Member of the Board of Directors, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, UAE.

At present, Maharashtra is at the $400 million mark. To grow, the Maharashtra government needs to clear the roadblocks that countries like the UAE face while trying to enter into trade arrangements with the state to make investments viable. “India is a big market for the petrochemical industry but there are challenges that we work with. One is the currency —the fluctuation of the rupee and the risk it brings with it. Secondly, there is a logistical challenge to bring goods to India in terms of import issues. The hub and spoke is very important and needs to be developed," said Yogesh Mehta, CEO, Petrochem Middle East, UAE.

State authorities said they are cognizant of the challenges and are working in fast-track mode to address these. “The airport, sea link, Metro links, corridors—all projects have been put on the fast track with defined deadlines. In two years, we will be able to complete all these projects and see a sea-change in infrastructural development," said Desai.

While there is a strong interest to invest in India, what is needed is a one-stop counter to address all investor concerns for investments across the country. In one day of the Dubai summit, as many as 26 companies from across industry segments like food processing, data centres, electric vehicles, etc. signed agreements to invest in India.

India and UAE are all set to sign the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by the end of the year and this is expected to enhance trade between the two countries.

“I think CEPA will be a game changer in terms of regional cooperation because this agreement is uniquely structured to address the bilateral needs of not just the two countries, the UAE and India, but also the UAE as a gateway to the rest of the GCC and beyond. If there is one state in India which can really benefit from CEPA, it is Maharashtra," said Kumar.

This is the coverage of a Mint event that was sponsored by MIDC.

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