Vijayawada took centre-stage in the business firmament of this region last week, when senior diplomats, industrial houses and officials from 35 countries flew down to the city to participate in the ‘diplomatic outreach’ programme hosted by Andhra Pradesh to focus on the investment opportunities in the State.
Touted as one of the biggest international outreach programmes, the event drew tremendous response, as the Chief Minister Mr YS Jaganmohan Reddy and other senior State Government officials threw open the drapes over the business opportunities across sectors.
Indeed, the up-beat mood amongst the diplomats during and after the event and the string of one-on-one meets indicated the level of success of the programme. The US, UK, Japan and Australia were among the countries that evinced serious interest in collaborating with AP on the business platform,
Sectors such as pharma, agriculture, automobiles. textiles and food processing were identified as areas which can soak up huge foreign investments, while dishing out healthy returns to investors.
As an immediate follow-up to the event, the State Government unveiled plans to set up investment promotion offices and investor desks in major cities in the country and some in foreign capitals.
The tone for the event was set by Mr Jaganmohan Reddy listing out the advantages in the State such as the second longest coastline in the country (972 kms) which ushers in significant opportunities in maritime, logistics and food processing sectors.
“Increasing productivity in agrarian economy is one area where there is scope for investment as the average yield per acre of coffee here, for instance, is about 260 kg while in Vietnam it runs up to 8,000 kgs. We need your cooperation in setting up globally competitive standards in agriculture and aqua sector,” the Chief Minister said
Strongly defending the cancellation of power purchase agreements, he said the renegotiations of the PPAs will in fact instil more confidence in investors.
He pointed out how the cost factor had been going up. Over, Rs 20,000 crore was pending for the last 29 months and if power was being purchased at this high rate, it will reflect on the cost and the new investors have to pay more.
He admitted in a candid tone that despite these advantages, the State faced challenges as an upshot of the division of the State. It received 59 per cent of debt and liabilities, which increased from Rs 1.30 lakh crores in 2014-15 to Rs 2.58 crore by 2018-19. However, the State is pushing ahead with its two main priorities-improving governance and driving economic development.
“Our immediate development goals are water and irrigation, urbanisation, construction of Kadapa steel plant and urban housing,” he said.
Collaboration for transfer of technology, FDI in key projects and exploring innovative financing mechanisms from global players are high on the priority list.