Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Romania eyes re-connect

East European nation offers tie-ups in IT, tea and jewellery
SUBHRO SAHA

The city, which was the backdrop of Romania’s greatest philosopher Mircea Eliade’s passionate love affair with Maitreyee Devi (chronicled in her novel No Honyote), is now set to re-connect with the East European nation, in the arena of trade and commerce. “Every Romanian knows of Calcutta, thanks to the legendary Eliade saga. We are keen to carry the emotional bond forward and also establish concrete collaboration with Calcutta in the fields of IT, tea, jewellery and leather, to begin with,” Vasile Sofineti, the ambassador of Romania to India, told Metro on Monday.

The ambassador, on his second visit to the city which Eliade made his home in the early 30s, felt skilled labour from Calcutta can help “revive the dying leather and garments industries” of Romania. “We are also looking at importing deft hands from Calcutta to boost our jewellery sector. Don’t forget, over 12 million of our 22-million population are women,” Sofineti smiled. Tea and IT are other key areas ripe for partnerships, the diplomat felt. While Wipro already has a presence in Romania, Infosys is scouting for space, he pointed out. “Infotech constitutes one of our core strengths and we can look at the possibility of working together with IT majors who have set up shop in Calcutta,” the ambassador observed.

Dialogue will soon be kicked off with local tea companies to commission export of Darjeeling tea to Romania, where “more and more people are switching to tea”. India’s bilateral trade with Romania has swelled from $120 million in 2003 to $605 million in the first nine months of 2007. “I’m convinced Bengal can bite into a sizeable share of the pie. So I’ll try and facilitate the visit of a combined business delegation, covering tea, IT, jewellery and leather in the first quarter of 2008,” Sofineti promised. Stressing that Romania offered “an excellent platform to penetrate central and eastern Europe”, the envoy said it’s important for business captains from his country to come to Calcutta and “smell the market”, and vice versa.

As the locomotive to drive such interaction, the embassy is forming the Indo-Romanian Chamber of Commerce in Calcutta soon, with around 11 to 15 members, according to B.K. Poddar, the honorary consul of Romania in the city. The embassy will also explore twinning possibilities with educational institutions.

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