Growing opportunities between GCC and Indian SME is vital for bilateral sustainability, said Dr. Seetharaman, Group CEO, Doha Bank.
Addressing the audience at the INDIA SME BUSINESS CONCLAVE in Mumbai on 15 June, Dr. Seetharaman said business connectivity can be improved if SMEs improve their competitiveness.
The event was organised by Small and Medium Business Development Chamber of India with the support of Government of Maharashtra, on the occasion of nineteenth Foundation Day of the Chamber.
Dr. Seetharaman was the Guest of Honour and as part of inaugural session gave a talk on ‘Supporting SMEs to Enhance Business Connectivity in Gulf Regions’. Dr. R. Seetharaman also received the Best Banker Award for Supporting SMEs in Banking Sector.
Dr. Seetharaman said, “GCC – India bilateral trade has increased from $145 billion in 2011-12 to $158 billion to 2012 - 2013 reflecting a growth of nine per cent. When compared to previous year in 2012-2013 exports to India have increased from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. Similarly imports from India have increased from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain. India is in also talks with members of the Gulf Co-operation Council to conclude a free trade agreement. Increasing bilateral trade can give opportunities for SMEs to explore GCC market. Growing opportunities between GCC and Indian SMEs is vital for bilateral sustainability.”
Dr. R.Seetharaman highlighted the sectors in GCC where SMEs can participate and highlight the recent steps taken by GCC to invite Indian SMEs. He said, “Fast moving consumer goods are a segment where Indian SMEs can look for exploring. Apart from this various other sectors include petrochemicals, infrastructure sector and Agricultural and food processing. In 2010, a trade promotion delegation of Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone Authority Visited South India to identify potential investors from among the SME sector for setting up business at the Free Trade Zone in UAE. In 2010, Oman and India agreed to pursue cooperation in field of Human Resource Development, especially skill development in the fields of technology, management and information technology, including cooperation in SME sector. SMEs can improve their competitiveness through public- private dialogues and better access to business development services, financing and technology.
“SME is one of the fastest growing segments in GCC. It contributes to over 60 per cent of the UAE’s GDP and provides around 86 per cent of employment in the private sector. In December 2012, the UAE cabinet has endorsed a federal law that aims to support and develop small and medium enterprises. SMEs in Saudi Arabia represent almost 93 percent of total enterprises and account for about 24.7 per cent of total employment. In March 2013, the Kuwaiti parliament approved a new law to establish the National Fund for the Welfare of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Development. The purpose of the fund is to provide financing for small businesses, which represent 85 per cent of total private institutions in Kuwait.
“Qatar’s small and medium- size enterprise sector constituting about 15 per cent of the economy, with most firms focused on the domestic economy. Qatar lays emphasis on SMEs that utilise raw materials and finished products and those which rely on oil and gas. Qatar’s economic diversification requires support of SMEs. Infrastructure development in the form of ports, roads, airports, rail, telecom, other utilities and huge construction activities will take place in this region and requires the need for SME businesses. In January 2013, Enterprise Qatar announced the first Government Procurement and Contracting Programme which will improve SMEs to improve their ability to win business through tenders.”
Dr. Seetharaman highlighted the capital market developments pertaining to SME. He said, “In 2005, NYSE Alternext was created by NYSE Euronext to meet the needs of small and mid-sized companies seeking simplified access to the stock market. AIM-London exchange is the international market for smaller growing companies. Bombay stock exchange (BSE) has launched operations of its SME exchange in March 2012. Similarly Qatar Venture market is under development for listing of SMEs. In UAE they are also planning to develop SME capital markets. Once SME listing happens, it improves visibility, status and valuation. It would also enable SME listed companies to have more access to information about the company and their capabilities.”