Sister cities Kolkata-Kunming must boost ties to tap huge growth potential, says Consul General of China in Kolkata

Kolkata: “Kolkata and Kunming (K2K), the sister cities of India and China, must step up trade, business, cultural ties and people-to-people contact in order to realise the fullest growth potential and benefit mutually,” said His Excellency, Mr Zha Liyou, the Consul General of People’s Republic of China in Kolkata. Mr Liyou visited and lauded the CWBTA Bengal Global Trade Expo 2022 and met with Mr Sushil Poddar, President, CWBTA, at the Expo ground. The five-day Expo was virtually inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on 20 April 2022.

Kunming, aka Yunnan-Fu, is the largest city and the capital of China’s Yunnan province which was jointly declared as Kolkata’s sister city during former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing in October, 2015. The headquarters of many of Yunnan’s largest businesses are in Kunming.

“The ties between K2K or Kolkata and Kunming has not been realised to its fullest potential. I would suggest as a first step the Mayors of Kolkata and Kunming should visit each other’s cities and scout for new opportunities and forge new partnerships to unlock the huge growth potential which remains untapped. Also, people-to-people contact between the two cities can bring together musicians, artists, educators, opera artists and others together and strengthen ties,” Mr Liyou said after visiting the Bengal Global Trade Expo 2022 at Science City.

Mr Liyou informed that each year in June Kunming also organizes a trade and business Expo like the BGTE 2022. “The state government officials, mayor of Kolkata, various chambers, trade and bodies of West Bengal should visit the Kunming Expo and identify focus areas to further trade, commerce and joint ventures,” Mr Liyou said. He further informed that eight Chinese companies are scouting for investment opportunities in West Bengal, the world’s largest ribbon manufacturer.

Welcoming Mr Liyou’s suggestions, Mr Sushil Poddar, President, CWBTA, said, “CWBTA, being the apex trade body of 1.5 million big and small traders and over 100 other trade associations, will carry forward the suggestions of His Excellency, Zha Liyou, and translate it into action. There is immense trade potential with the People’s Republic of China and eastern India which merits serious consideration and action.”

Mr. Yang Xuhong, Deputy General Manager of the world’s largest bank – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC), who visited the Trade Expo, praised the efforts made by the state government and CWBTA to organize the mega event. “ICBC is looking at the possibility of setting up a representative office or branch in Kolkata. We are focusing on providing financial support to the MSMEs and start ups in West Bengal and rest of India. We have deep experience in providing financial support in China.”

“West Bengal had earlier missed the bus as far a mobile phone business in India when Noida and Gurugram and some other cities garnered a chunk of the investments. Bengal should not commit the same mistake with the rising electric vehicles sector in India. There is a huge opportunity opening up in the EV segment which must be seized,” Mr. Xuhong said.

Foreign business and consular representatives of The Republic of Korea, Japan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Germany and others visited the Expo.

“The Bengal Global Trade Expo 2022 is a great effort to expand the trade and business footprint,” said Mr Shiv Siddhant N Kaul, the Honorary Consul of The People’s Republic of Korea in Kolkata. Mr Young Seaon Park, Managing Director of Korean Trade Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) express similar views and congratulated CWBTA for hosting the Expo.

The BGTE Expo- 2022 would be spread over 3.75 lac square feet area with 19 hangars, conference facilities and dedicated pavilions for Government bodies and institutions, top companies, trade bodies, manufacturers, traders, financial institutions and so on. A special hangar for electric vehicle segment has especially be set up to showcase the latest products and services.