Punjab CM reaches out to US corporate sector for investments

Punjab CM reaches out to US corporate sector for investments

Washington: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has reached out to the US corporate sector for investments, highlighting the industry- and investor-friendly policies of the state.

Addressing a virtual USA-Punjab Investors' Roundtable 2020 on Tuesday, he said that after months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Punjab's economy is coming back on track, industry is back on its feet and migrant labourers have started returning.

Punjab's industries have opened up again, Singh said, adding that his government offers industry-friendly and investor-friendly policies.

Inviting the investors to enjoy the state's unique business-friendly culture that promoted entrepreneurship, Singh said that the US is the top export destination for companies from Punjab.

In 2019-20, Punjab's export to the US was to the tune of USD 685 million amounting to approximately 12 per cent of the state's total exports, he said.

Asserting that Punjab is the preferred landing destination for overseas companies, Singh said that there are a number of industrial units which are coming from the US and different parts of the world.

Pepsi and Walmart started their Indian operations in Punjab, he said, adding that more than 30 American firms including Amazon, Walmart, Quark, Cargill, Tyson, Schreiber, Pepsi, Coca Cola currently have operations in the state.

Responding to a question from Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga, the chief minister acknowledged that he has differences the Center on the agricultural bills.

We are not against corporates but there has to be a regulation to protect the farmers and the long-standing relationship they have with the Arhtiyas (commission agents), he said, asserting that any attempt to do away with this system will not work.

Singh said that his government had brought in bills in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to negate the impact of the central farm laws and had also taken up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India's Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu said that Punjab and the US can explore complementarities, in many sectors such as Agriculture and Food Processing, Education, textile and garment, Renewable energy, light engineering, pharma and IT.

Green Revolution is just one of the many links, connecting the US and Punjab, which transformed Punjab into the Granary of India , he said.

Today, Punjab plays a key role in ensuring India's national food security, the Indian envoy said, adding that the state is also endowed with an equally flourishing, non-food grains and horticulture sector.

Punjab is equipped with a strong network of educational, vocational and scientific institutions. Chandigarh and Mohali, have emerged as education and IT hubs, he said.

For years, Punjab's industries have proven to be reliable partners and suppliers to the US giants like Walmart, New Balance and even food chains like KFC, Burger King and McDonalds. More recently, Punjab has become a part of Tesla's supply chain. These are indicative of the diverse strengths of Punjab's economy, Sandhu said, urging the US investors to consider the state as their next investment destination.

Referring to the vibrant Punjabi community in the US, some of the prominent members who were present during the roundtable, Sandhu said that the community is known for its entrepreneurial spirit.

They have contributed to the US economy and society. They are a strong bridge between our two great countries, he said.

The two-day investors' roundtable was organised by the Government of Punjab in coordination with the Embassy of India, Washington DC and US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) to showcase Punjab to prospective investors in the US.

The roundtable focused on agriculture and food processing; pharma and medical devices; engineering and manufacturing; IT and startup; and education.

Noting that the total investment in the state in the past three years had been more than USD 9 million, Punjab's Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan told the investors that ease of business is being implemented in the state in the practical sense. There has been rapid industrialisation in various sectors including auto, food processing, IT, start-ups and cycle industries.

The Punjab government, she said, is now moving towards automatic approvals and deemed approvals to make the ecosystem even more conducive and accessible for investors.

In his opening remarks, Mukesh Agnihotri, President of US India Strategic and Partnership Forum, said that the ease of doing business and transparency promoted by Punjab is yielding results.

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