New Delhi: The Gujarat Summit 2022, which did not see the light of day due to the renewed spread of Covid-19 across India, was actually planned on the lines of the Davos Summit.

The idea, shaped by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendrabhai Patel, was to create a global agenda for world leaders to share their visions on critical challenges facing the world today and present their ideas on how to address them.

The idea was to find ways as to how India would connect with Central Asia and also counter China’s huge manufacturing and marketing capacities. The idea was to discuss territorial issues for trade dominance.

The summit, if held, would have discussed the way forward for India by dominating the shipping routes through the water bodies of the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. India, for the record, has built up maritime defence capabilities around its coastlines.

The summit, it is reliably learnt, was to discuss India’s way to augment the maritime capabilities with trade and commercial shipping dominance. Interestingly, Gujarat has great shipping ports that are connected to the rest of India. The Gujarat Summit was to work out in vestments in trade and also into the port and port-related activities that could benefit the shipping industries also.

The Gujarat government reckons simultaneous development of maritime security and trade would help India tap into other networks, including the shipping channels through East Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and South-East Asia. The latter is a particular challenge since the development of Colombo port, which is part of Silk Route 2.0.

More importantly, New Delhi needs to counter Beijing, which is also building shipping networks that encompass all of Asia and Europe. That shipping requires passing through the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

The summit was also to discuss efforts to accelerate the race to net-zero emissions, nature-positive solutions, create cyber resilience and build economies in fragile markets through humanitarian investing.

Chief Minister Patel had completed the interview before the summit, some of his answers are listed below.

Q: The Summit was meant to be unique and expansive…

A: The Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit was conceptualized in 2003 when PM Modi was the Gujarat CM. It is one of the most reputed global forums for business networking, knowledge sharing and strategic partnerships for inclusive socio-economic development. The theme was changed this year: From Atmanirbhar Gujarat To Aatmanirbhar Bharat. The idea was to further the cause of development and to promote cooperation.

We wanted to see investment potential across various sectors like textiles, education, infrastructure, healthcare, energy, and agro and food processing that would create job opportunities. The idea was to create a platform for SMEs to connect globally with potential partners. We wanted to focus on key national initiatives like sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy and national hydrogen mission, electric mobility, and futuristic technologies. There will also be theme pavilions based on the various flagship programs of the Central and the State governments. The Centre’s Gati Shakti Plan and how the scheme will benefit Gujarat in the areas of infrastructure and investment was to be discussed, we wanted to discuss 13 Production Linked Investment (PLI) schemes for different sectors. We collaborated extensively with the PMO, MEA, NITI Aayog, DPIIT, Invest India and other departments of the Centre.

Q: How was the response from domestic and international road shows?

A: The economic recovery gained momentum in the backdrop of rapid progress in vaccinations and rising demands from the industry, a sign of enthusiasm in the Indian economy including Gujarat. Delegations held virtual meetings with officials in the United States, Russia, South Korea, Japan and some European nations. I had personally led the delegation to the UAE in the second week of December 2021. The delegations received an overwhelming response from the countries visited and over 20 partner countries confirmed their participation. We had started receiving confirmations from global and Indian CEOs for participating in the summit. In addition, we conducted successful national roadshows in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Kolkata.

Several companies have signed MoUs in my presence, a conclusive evidence of the excitement amongst the industry leaders.

Q: Your expectations from these partnerships?

A: VGGS is to highlight Gujarat’s strengths in terms of its industrial ecosystem and showcase the prospective investment opportunities. The interactions were to evaluate economic conditions and prospects in both countries and work on economic partnership agreement, bilateral investments and integration of the global value chain. We wanted to access new technologies, scale up investments in the next generation infrastructure, energy and digital networks. As many as 20 partner countries were on board for the summit, stretching from Japan to the United Kingdom, France to Australia to Canada.

Q: You were planning some policy chances this time for the Summit.

A: Gujarat is a policy-driven state. To create an enabling environment, the state has launched policies and schemes incentivizing investors for future growth. In a move to boost employment generation in the agro sector, the Gujarat government is all set to announce its new agro- business policy. During a December summit on agriculture, PM Narendra Modi remarked that “we need to not only re-learn this ancient knowledge of agriculture but also to sharpen it for modern times. In this direction, we do have to do research afresh, mould ancient knowledge into the modern scientific frame.” Gujarat wants to scale up the state’s solar energy capacity to contribute to India’s overall renewable energy targets keeping in mind India’s commitments under international climate agreements, to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and further energy security in the state. [Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) last week pledged to invest a massive $80 billion in Gujarat over 10 to 15 years for its clean energy businesses, seeking to extend its dominance amid a global shift to renewables. RIL signed an accord with the Gujarat government for a total investment of Rs 5.955 trillion in various projects in the state, which is home to its refinery complex, the world’s largest such plant].

Gujarat has done away with the ceiling on installed capacity and has allowed consumers to lease their premises or roofs to third parties for the purpose of setting up plants to generate and consume power in the same premises.

Another major announcement for 2022 will be the state’s new proposed Information Technology & IT-enabled services policy, which will provide necessary support to promote emerging technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Compared to the 2016 policy where incentives were given to create IT & ITeS accommodating properties, the new policy will focus on providing easy entry-and-exit plug-and-play infrastructure on lease. The policy is also expected to offer manpower-related incentives to attract talent and boost the sector’s growth.

The state government has plans to turn Gujarat into a manufacturing hub for electric vehicles and ancillary equipment.

Healthcare and textiles are two areas the state government is working vigorously. Gujarat has made considerable efforts to boost the textile sector and make it self-reliant by setting up dedicated industrial training institutes promoting sectoral research, Textile Parks, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for textiles, and Centres of Excellence.

Q: What about some other reforms you wanted to bring in the near future?

A: Gujarat wants to fully reap the benefits of the FTAs with market intelligence and increased focus on value addition. It is imperative to see imports as beneficial, as these bring improved and advanced technologies into the country. It is the opportune time for India to plug into global demand as economies are looking at newer sources and supply chains are shifting geographies. Gujarat received FDI worth $15.6 billion between April 2015 and March 2020. In FY 2019-20, Gujarat saw the highest national increment of 240% in FDI inflows from previous year. Gujarat attracted highest FDI equity inflows worth $21.9 billion during FY2021, which is 37% of the total FDI equity inflows across states in India. With this, the FDI growth in Gujarat is 60 times that of the growth in rest of India. This can be attributed to Gujarat’s policy driven business ecosystem. The increasing investments are also a testimony of the state’s conducive business environment.

Gujarat now contributes 8% to India’s GDP, with a meagre 5% of India’s population. Its industrial output forms 17% of the country’s total industrial output and over 20% of India’s total exports. Gujarat’s manufacturing sector accounts for 37.5% of State GDP, which is higher than the national average of 17%.

According to the Industrial Entrepreneurs Memorandum (IEM) data released by DPIIT, Gujarat reported actual investment worth Rs 37,908 crore ($5.2 billion) based on the IEM Part B filed for the month of January 2021 and February 2021. With this, Gujarat has also attained top position in the domestic investments with a lion’s share of 60% in the actual investment reported in India.