“Indo-German Business Relationship – Our Experiences, Challenges and Opportunities”

IIM Seminar I
L-R: Prof. Biju Paul Abraham, Dean Academic, IIM Kolkata, Professor Sushil Khanna, IIM Kolkata, Prof. Saibal Chattopadhyay, Director, IIM Kolkata, Mr. Juergen Thomas Schrod, Deputy Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Ms. Srita Heide, Founder / CEO, Srita Heide International, Indo-European Business, Ms. Sabina Pandey, Regional Director, Indo-German Chamber of Commerce

Kolkata :Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC) Kolkata jointly with Srita Heide International, Indo-European Business Advisor at IIM Calcutta organised a round table discussion on:“Indo-German Business Relationship – Our Experiences, Challenges and Opportunities”
On the verge of the Chief Minister’s delegation to Germany this discussion was focussed on strengthening and developing further business relationship and collaboration between West Bengal and Germany. Prof. Saibal Chattopadhyay, Director IIM Calcutta highlighted in his welcome speech the long lasting trade relationship between Germany and India and Germany being the largest trading partner of India, among all other European Union countries.
History takes us back to 1587, when a German gem and spices trader named Ferdinand Cron came from Augsburg Germany and settled down in Goa. Since then business relationships have been growing across industries. “It takes us back to 1870 when Siemens and Krupp established the first telegraph link between London and Calcutta. Now almost 500 companies from West Bengal are exporting to Germany and approx. 200 companies from Germany are represented in the state. Our aim should be to raise the German FDI in Bengal and focus more on the core competencies of West Bengal”, says Srita Heide, an Indian expatriate and an Indo-European Business Advisor, living in Germany for more than 22 years. She teaches IIM students at Mannheim Business School in Germany on German Mittelstand and Business Methods.
“Even though India and Germany share a great friendship and good political ties, this has not yet translated into sufficient trade and investment relations. Many German companies prefer European or Chinese / other Asian nations as foreign investment destinations rather than India. The reasons for this need to be discussed and addressed. Also, e.g. machinery imports from Germany to India is not as expected and China has emerged as an important competitor in engineering goods for Germany” – was highlighted by IIM Professor Sushil Khanna, who has been a visiting lecturer to Leipzig Business School in Germany.
Ms. Sabina Pandey, Regional Director East, Indo-German Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata, highlighted the latest facts & figures on Indo-German Trade and Investment.
Even though trade did not grow as per potential, recently the traditional export products to Germany, such as textiles and garments, show once again an upward trend. The same holds also true for chemicals as well as food products. India and especially West Bengal has got many machinery and engineering goods businesses and there is a lot of potential for engineering exports to Germany as well. Germany is not only a major exporter but also importer of machinery, a lot of which comes till date from China.
Representatives from the Industry took part in an active panel discussion moderated by Srita Heide. Some companies like Vikram Solar represented by Mr. Gaynesh Chaudury, CEO and MD, Dr. Sascha Büchel from Wacker Metroark Chemicals would be Ambassadors of West Bengal and part of the delegation team in Germany.

At the end the outcome of the discussion was summarized and handed over to Mr. P Kamalakanth, who represented WBIDC, supporting the delegation to define the agenda of the delegation team for Germany
– Address the skills shortage and set up a state of the art vocational training centre and develop the skilled manpower for manufacturing units
– Improve on the ease of doing business
– Highlight the success stories which already exist of German and other businesses in West Bengal
– Germans don’t like uncertainty and – try to avoid it; therefore, strive to have clear processes and structure
– Strengthen business morale
– The knowledge about India and in particular about the State of West Bengal is often poor amongst Germans. Educate people about West Bengal, its history and its strengths, so that people get to know the opportunities

“In spite of all our differences we do have common business objectives. This is important to be aware of each other’s culture and learn the art to go along with the differences”, says Srita Heide. “Business collaboration between countries should create a win-win situation for both the partners”. She further emphasized to strengthen West Bengal resources by investing on vocational training on a public-private-partnership mode and taking Germany as a role model. This will give more confidence to German investors.
Representatives from the Industry, Government and Academics described this to be a very fruitful event and organizers will develop more interactive sessions and discussions to enhance business relationship between West Bengal and Germany.