Maharashtra looks for Thailand's support in food, dairy processing and SME sectors, says Mr. Desai

SI Team “Thailand and Maharashtra can work together to uplift the small and medium enterprises(SMEs) to higher levels. SMEs in Thailand and Maharashtra can explore joint collaborations in food processing, dairy, textiles and information technology sectors. Maharashtra produces millions of tonnes of milk; but there is inadequate processing facility in dairy sector. Maharashtra has diverse climatic conditions favourable for producing large variety of crops. Farmers in Maharashtra are growing high quality food crops supported by substantial research and development. We look for Thailand’s partnership in secondary treatment of these food crops, which include preservation, processing, packaging and export,” said Mr. Subhash Desai, Hon’ble Minister for Industries and Mining, Government of Maharashtra at the ‘Round table Discussion on SMEs’ with business delegation from Thailand at World Trade Centre Mumbai.

Mr. Desai further said he expects Thailand’s support for value addition in the textile sector. Maharashtra has set up a dedicated textile park and nine more are in the process of being developed. “My dream is to see majority of garments in the world market to be labeled as ‘Made in India’ products.”

Mr. Desai said Maharashtra accounts for 15% of India’s GDP, more than 40% of exports and attracted 50% of India’s total foreign direct investment (last year). This proves Maharashtra is the most investment friendly state in India.

Speaking about government support to SMEs, the minister informed, “Maharashtra has special policy for SMEs and the government supports SMEs in land allotment, licensing, reservation and procurement so that they do not have to compete with large enterprises.”

During the event, Dr. Wimonkarn Kosumas, Deputy Director General, Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion of Thailand outlined a four-point programme to strengthen bilateral ties between India and Maharashtra. Specifically, Dr. Kosumas sought India’s strategic partnership in digitizing SMEs in the country. The four-point programme mentioned by her are setting up a dedicated Maharashtra desk in the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion(OSMEP)in Thailand, holding Thailand-Maharashtra SME festival(including round table discussion and
trade fair) next year, linking artisans and craftsmen of Maharashtra with the designers in Thailand and promoting SME collaboration in food packaging technologies.

Considering that SMEs in Thailand account for 99.7% of all enterprises and generate 88% of employment, the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion(OSMEP)has been brought under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister of Thailand. There is no disparity of income and tremendous opportunity for employment created by the sector, she remarked.

Dr. Kosumas further informed, “This is the 3rd time I am visiting Mumbai in the last five years. There is tremendous potential to enhance partnership between Thailand and Maharashtra. The OSMEP has set up a dedicated desk to promote SME collaboration with Italy and Japan. We can set up similar dedicated desk for Maharashtra as well.”

Dr. Kosumas invited SMEs from Maharashtra to participate in the forthcoming trade events in Thailand such as Propak Asia (June 12-15, 2019), Food Pack Asia 2019.

Dr. Kosumas also highlighted the success of Thailand’s export-promotion programme OTOP (One Tambon One Product)and expressed willingness to share this experience with India. Thailand ranks 11th in the world in attracting tourists and the country is also a leading exporter of lifestyle design products.

India - Thailand relationship is driven by tourism and entertainment industries. Indian movies and televisions shows such as Mahabharata are popular among Thai households, she added.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Ekapol Poolpipat, Consul General, Royal Thai Consulate-General, Mumbai said, “Maharashtra is not only the financial and commercial hub of India, it is also one of the largest markets in the country. My mission is to promote bilateral partnership in three areas: commerce, innovation and culture. This round table discussion is an important step to take forward our partnership. In future, we must hold a series of such round table discussions for the benefit of our SMEs.”

Earlier in his welcome remarks, Mr. Vijay Kalantri, Vice Chairman, MVIRDC World Trade Centre Mumbai and President, All India Association of Industries said, “India’s bilateral trade with Thailand is USD 10.8 billion and we have the potential to double this volume in the next three years. Maharashtra and Thailand have great potential for partnership. Maharashtra is a leading producer of mangoes, Chicku, grapes, banana and other food crops. However, 40% of food crops perish before reaching market. Therefore, we need more food processing units and cold storages near farm gate. This is the right opportunity to develop partnership with Thailand in food processing sector as Indian government aims to double the income of farmers by 2022.”

The round table discussion was attended by government officials of Maharashtra and business delegates of food processing and packaging industries in Thailand and India.