he Made in India Show in Bangkok was organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in collaboration with the Indian Embassy and India-Thai Chamber of Commerce from 11th to 14th August, 2004.
The Show attained added significance as it was organised within days of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attending the BIMST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sikkim, Thailand ?Economic Cooperation) summit in Thailand. The PM’s visit resulted in speeding up the commencement of the first phase of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), namely the Early Harvest Scheme (EHS). Under the EHS arrangement, 82 items have become eligible for bilateral trade at half the current tariff levels from 23 September, 2004 onwards.
Thai investment in India between 1991-2002 amounted to $782.7 million, while Indian investment in Thailand for the same period was $984.4 million. Thailand today is the 18th largest investor in India and the third largest from ASEAN, after Malaysia and Singapore. The EHS will result in the elimination of tariffs on selected farm products and industrial goods within the third year of implementation. Under the broad FTA, tariffs on goods from both countries will be eliminated by the year 2010.
The Show’s objective was to establish new trade links between Indian and Thai entrepreneurs, besides attracting investments to India, which is ranked as the world’s fastest growing democratic free market economy. It aimed to showcase the changing face of India, the strengths of the Indian economy and of Indian industry.
The Made in India Show was inaugurated on 11 August in the presence of Watana Muangsook, Minister of Commerce, Government of Thailand, EVKS Elangovan, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Government of India, Vinai Sachdev, President, India-Thai Chamber of Commerce, Sunil Kant Munjal, President, CII, Rajiv Kaul, Past President, CII, and Leena Ponappa, India’s Ambassador to Thailand.
In his inaugural speech, the Thailand minister reiterated the Thai Government’s commitment to achieve a trade volume of $2 billion in 2004 between the two countries. He hoped that this would become possible through the much-publicised Indo-Thailand FTA with its first phase of implementation on 23 September, 2004. Elangovan said that the Indian subcontinent offered significant opportunities for Thai companies in food processing, agriculture, industrial estate development, road and highway construction as also in the financial sector. He urged Thais to take advantage of India’s cheaper labour costs by focusing on labour intensive industries. He saw great opportunity in synergising the dominant strengths of Thailand and India in the IT hardware and software sectors.
Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd. participated in the Made in India Show, for which I was deputed as the representative for our Furniture and Interiors Group and Security Equipment Division. H.N. Khumbatta, Vice President and Business Head, Material Handling Equipment (MHE) Division, P.B. Jagtiani, Assistant General Manager (Exports), and V.K. Sheshadri, Regional Manager (Sales and Marketing), were the other representatives for the MHE and Precision Equipment Divisions, respectively. Among the products on display were our Grid Workstation, Tambour Storage Unit, Personal Locker Unit, Personal Filer, Net Back Chair, Varianta Pedestal, Heavy Duty Storage sections and posters for locks, forklifts, strong room doors, locker units and process equipment.
The Show also coincided with a national celebration. The Thais celebrated Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 72nd birthday on the completion of her sixth cycle (each cycle refers to a period of 12 years). They made full use of the public holiday, by visiting the Show in large numbers. Corporate officials and members of the public appreciated the products on display, especially our Tambour Sliding Door Units, Personal Locker Units and Personal Filers. Our posters for locks and accessories evoked a great deal of interest. Local manufacturers of steel furniture appreciated the mechanisms, sheet thickness and powder coating of our steel products.
Ministers of both the countries, the Indian ambassador, officials of the India-Thai Chamber of Commerce and corporate visitors seeking product details/proposals visited our stall. We received a few applications soliciting an agency in some form or the other. The president of one of the largest supermarket shelving system manufacturers with German patent for their product also called on our stall and expressed keen interest to work with Godrej. She took me round some of the largest supermarkets in the city, showing me the designing and fitting of shelvings by them. She expects some of her staunch customers, large global supermarket operators, to use her products in India too. She also wants to capitalise on the expected retail segment boom in India.
Our safes found favour with many visitors. However, they all felt that it would be necessary initially to display the full range of safes in showrooms throughout the city for these products to sell.
Many inquiries were received at our stall for locks, door handles and accessories. Khumbatta and Jagtiani were close to finalising the agency that would be representing them in Bangkok.
From the enquiries received, it was evident that our Process Equipment Division enjoys good brand equity in the Asian countries due to the products conforming to world-class standards. An Indian businessman running an industrial gloves manufacturing unit was willing to start a joint venture with us for Process Equipment and Special Fabrication Business, committing investment up to Rs. 1 crore.
Our Net Back Premium Chair was a big hit with visitors. A local television news channel anchor, who visited our stall, was explained the features of our chair, which is based on sound ergonomics. On trying it out, she was so impressed that she readily agreed to my proposal of giving us coverage on the Thailand Outlook Channel!
Many individuals who came to our stall offered to buy our chair at the quoted price, but were disappointed when I suggested they lift all the material together. Our stall design and product display attracted many visitors. The local print media arranged for photo coverage of our stall with a brief description of our Company.
A few Thai postgraduates in the chemical and process engineering field were keen on seeking employment in our Company after hearing about it.
It appears that there is a sizeable potential for our Company in the areas of Special Fabrication, Process Equipment, Steel Storage Units and Seating. With trading partners or a joint venture with manufacturing/value addition operations in Thailand, we could make our presence strongly felt and pave the way for future business.