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Covid-19: India offers land twice the size of Luxembourg to companies leaving China

NEW DELHI: India is developing a group of land nearly twice the size of Luxembourg to attract companies moving from China, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

A total area of ​​461,589 hectares across the country has been identified for the purpose, the people said, asking not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media. That includes 115,131 hectares of existing industrial land in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, they said. Luxembourg spans 243,000 hectares, according to the World Bank.

Land has been one of the biggest impediments to companies looking to invest in India, with Saudi Aramco-Posco’s plans thwarted by delays in the acquisition. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration is working with state governments to change that as investors seek to reduce China’s dependence on manufacturing as a post-coronavirus outbreak and the resulting supply disruption.

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Investors interested in establishing a factory in India currently need to purchase land on their own. The process, in some cases, delays the project since it involves negotiating with owners of small plots to separate from their exploitation.

A call to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry spokesperson went unanswered.

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Providing energy to land, water, and road access can help attract new investment to an economy that was slowing down even before the virus hit, and is now seeing a rare contraction as a national blockade strikes the consumption.

The government has selected 10 sectors (electrical, pharmaceutical, medical devices, electronics, heavy engineering, solar equipment, food processing, chemicals, and textiles) as focus areas to promote manufacturing. It has asked embassies abroad to identify companies seeking options. Invest India, the government’s investment agency, has received inquiries mainly from Japan, the United States, South Korea and China, expressing interest in moving to Asia’s third-largest economy, the people said.

The four countries are among India’s top 12 trading partners, representing total bilateral trade of $ 179.27 billion. Foreign direct investment from the four nations between April 2000 and December 2019 amounts to more than $ 68 billion, according to government data.

The availability of unused land in special economic zones, which already have strong infrastructure, is also being examined. A detailed plan to attract foreign investment is expected to be finalized by the end of the month, the people said.

Own programs

States have been separately urged to develop their own programs to attract foreign investment. The Prime Minister held a meeting on April 30 to discuss steps to accelerate strategies to attract investors.

Andhra Pradesh, a state in southern India, is in contact with several companies in Japan, the United States and South Korea.

“We have the advantage of the coast and the prefabricated industrial parks with the necessary authorization,” Rajat Bhargava, special chief secretary of the state revenue department, said by phone. “We are focusing on certain sectors such as IT and related manufacturing, food processing and chemicals, and have been holding video conferences with investors.”

The northern state of Uttar Pradesh is also developing an online system for allocating land for all industrial and commercial purposes and is in talks with global companies to attract investment in sectors such as defense and aerospace.

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