Key Takeaways from Panel Discussion on U.S.-Chhattisgarh Investment Opportunities

On July 14th, 2020, the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership hosted a panel by representatives of the state government of Chhattisgarh featuring Mr. R P Mandal, Chief Secretary; Mr. Manoj Kumar Pingua, Principal Secretary, Department of Commerce & Industries; Mr. Amitabh Jain, Additional Chief Secretary, Finance; Mr. Rakesh Chaturvedi, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest who offered insights to the capabilities and potential of the state, as well as opportunities for collaboration with the United States.

Since its creation in 2000, its industry has grown exponentially, and the state has achieved a leading position in the start-up and ease of doing business rankings for the nation. As a consequence of its shared borders with seven other states, it enjoys market access to a population of 510 million people, facilitated by its robust transportation systems.

What makes Chhattisgarh an attractive investment destination?

1.  Abundance of raw materials: Chhattisgarh also has many raw materials as a consequence of its geography. It is abundant in 28 minerals, making it an ideal destination in India for companies in iron, steel, and power industries. It also is home to many forest products, due to its 44% forest cover. This segment has seen a lot of growth with the export of forest produce across the globe, and is assisted by the fact that it is inherently organic, although full certification is yet to be acquired. Tribal families acting in a federation in the industry receive the Minimum Support Price and ensure the benefits of value addition reach the tribes. It is an area with great investment potential, and the federation is considering creating a BBB board to increase visibility of these raw materials.

2.  Human Capital: On the human capital side, its education ecosystem is well established. With 3000 vocational training institutes, it is home to the largest skill development effort in India. It also has a variety of public and private universities and colleges, as well as ITIs, to meet various educational needs.

3. Geographical Connectivity: The state has also invested in its connectivity to increase ease of transport for industries, with national highways connecting Chhattisgarh to other major cities, as well as railways connecting remote regions of the state. Its ‘Smart City’, Nava Raipur, has state-of-the-art infrastructure as well as dedicated sectors for housing and non-polluting industries, making it an ideal location for technology-based industries.

4.  Industrial growth: Currently, industries in the state are in sector-specific industrial parks to facilitate cluster-based development in the state and all districts. Industries can be grouped by type: from ‘core strengths’ like steel, power and aluminum, to ‘sunrise sectors’ like food processing and biofuels, and ‘growth potentials’ like pharmaceuticals and textiles. This overview, along with Chhattisgarh’s ‘single window’ system and cost-efficient business opportunities, make it an ideal location for foreign capital.

Opportunities for collaboration with US Industry:

1.  Manufacturing in varied sectors, electronics, food processing, energy, and others. Some specific policies encourage the United States to consider Chhattisgarh as a location for capital. A highlight would be the Chhattisgarh Industrial Policy, which offers special bespoke incentives and subsidies for investments above $13 million and similar incentives in electronics and ITEs for fixed capital investments.

2.  Panelists pointed out that Chhattisgarh had fortunately fared quite well with COVID, with traceable contact of patients and no community spread. While the lockdown led industries to shut temporarily, processing industries and industries with continuous processes had continued to function. Currently, since most industries have opened to function at over 80% capacity and migratory laborers have returned to the state increasing labor supply, the moment is opportune to invest in the supply chain of the state.
Given the natural resources of the state and policy reforms to attract and favor investment, Chhattisgarh has committed itself to growing into its full industrial potential.

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