Posted on October 04, 2015

Doha Bank hosted a business meet with the support of the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Chennai under the theme “Bilateral Opportunities between India, Qatar and Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC)” on 30th September 2015 at Taj Coromandel Ballroom, Chennai. The business meet was attended by Mr. S.G. Prabhakaran, President, Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Mr. Rashid bin Ali Al Mansoori, Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Exchange; Mr. Ramkumar Shankar, Deputy Managing Director, Chemplast Sanmar Limited; Dr. R. Seetharaman, Chief Executive Officer, Doha Bank; and senior members of Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry and leading corporates from the state of Tamil Nadu.

Mr. S.G. Prabhakaran, President, MCCI and Chairman, XS Real Group, welcomed the gathering and emphasized the importance of close working connections between Indian and Qatari companies and brought the audience’s attention to the abundant joint venture opportunities presented by the GCC countries consequent to the massive expansion taking place in the areas of construction and infrastructure creation - i.e. roads / bridges / seaports / tunnels, etc. He also stressed on the role played by Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry during the 179 years of its history in bridging the needs of corporate business houses in Tamil Nadu and the opportunities presented in various markets including GCC countries.

Synergistic opportunities exist 2 [].jpgMr. Rashid bin Ali Al Mansoori, CEO of Qatar Exchange, highlighted the opportunities available to Indian companies, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to establish businesses in the State of Qatar. He briefed participants on the process of listing the ventures in Qatar Stock Exchange and clarified the various simple procedures applicable for such listing in Qatar. Mr. Ramkumar Shankar, Deputy Managing Director of Chemplast Sanmar Limited, spoke about the pleasant business experiences his group has had with Qatari corporates exporting petrochemicals products to India and emphasized the ease of doing business with Qatari corporates.

In his keynote address, Dr. R. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank, shared insights on the global economy. He said, “Global growth in the first half of 2015 was lower than in the second half of 2014, reflecting a further slowdown in emerging economies and a weaker recovery in advanced economies. The global economy is facing a tussle between forces of recession and deflation. There is a risk that slowdown in emerging economies could adversely affect economic recovery in advanced countries. The deflation risks can also emerge on account of significant fall in oil price and other commodities, thereby contributing to global slowdown. The risk of currency war has also emerged on account of Yuan devaluation by the Chinese Central Bank. The Fed, meanwhile, has held on to the option of rate hike in 2015.”

Throwing light on the recent economic performance of India, he said, “Indian economy is expected to grow by 7.5 percent in 2015-16. In its recent monetary policy meeting, the Reserve Bank of India cut repo rate by 50 basis points to 6.75% and kept CRR at 4%. RBI believes that investment is likely to respond more strongly if there is more certainty about the extent of monetary stimulus in the pipeline and hence has front-loaded policy action by a reduction in the policy rate by 50 basis points. The drop in oil price could ease the pressure on India’s current account deficit and fiscal deficit. India had received USD 30.93 billion in FDI in 2014-15 and is working on measures to make the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy more progressive and increase India's attractiveness as an investment destination.”

Commenting on the opportunities in Tamil Nadu, Dr. Seetharaman said, “Tamil Nadu is the fourth largest state in India and is the second largest contributor to India’s GDP. It is a global industrial and manufacturing hub with a large number of industries and SMEs. Tamil Nadu is one of the leading states in attracting foreign direct investment in India and has made tremendous progress in its efforts to provide a stable and hassle-free business environment to investors. The Tamil Nadu Government’s 'Vision 2023’ strategic plan for infrastructure development envisions infrastructure investment worth USD 250 billion, and GCC sovereign investors can look forward to participating in this initiative as part of their global diversification strategy.”

Speaking on the Qatar economy and the bilateral relationship between India and Qatar, he said, “Qatar’s economy is expected to grow by more than 7 percent in 2015. The construction sector is expected to witness double digit growth this year, further supporting Qatar’s non-hydrocarbon diversification. Bilateral trade between Qatar and India in 2014-15 stood at around USD 16 billion, while overall trade between GCC and India during the same period totaled USD 133 billion. As the largest supplier of LNG to India, Qatar plays a vital role in helping India meet its energy needs. In May 2013, Qatar bought a 5% stake in Indian telecom company Bharti Airtel Ltd for USD 1.26 billion, and many Indian companies such as L&T, Tata Projects, Voltas and Punj Lloyd have been actively participating in various projects in Qatar.”

Synergistic opportunities exist 3 [].jpgTurning his attention to the trends and opportunities in the GCC project sector, Dr. Seetharaman said, “Projects worth more than USD 170 billion are expected to be executed in GCC in 2015, out of which projects worth close to USD 30 billion are expected to be undertaken in Qatar, where sectors such as construction, transportation and water will witness significant activity this year. Indian companies can look forward to exploring opportunities in this segment.”

Dr. Seetharaman also highlighted the significant contribution of the SME sector to GCC economies. He said, “In the UAE, SMEs contribute over 60 percent of the GDP and provide around 86 percent of the employment in the private sector. SMEs can participate in Qatar’s non-hydrocarbon diversification. The state of Tamil Nadu is home to a large number of SMEs. A significant attraction for Indian SMEs to do business in the Gulf is the ability to procure cost-effective funds. Qatar’s economy is vibrant on account of the non–hydrocarbon diversification which is giving a boost to its project and SME sectors. Hence opportunities are there for Tamil Nadu corporates and SMEs to participate in infrastructure development in Qatar. On the whole, synergistic opportunities exist between Qatar and Tamil Nadu in the areas of infrastructure development and SME.”

As a precursor to proposing the vote of thanks, Mr. Ganesan Ramakrishnan, Head of International Banking at Doha Bank, highlighted the role of Doha Bank in providing full-fledged banking services to corporates from Tamil Nadu as well as the Bank’s role in channeling bilateral investments between the State of Qatar, GCC countries and India and in bridging the gap between investors and industrialists.