World Trade Centres Association and World Trade Centre Bengaluru’s Global Business Forum Commences in India for the First Time

World Trade Centres Association (WTCA), an international trade organisation that connects more than 300 World Trade Centre (WTC) locations in almost 100 countries, and World Trade Centre Bengaluru hosted the 54th Annual Global Business Forum, which commenced in Bengaluru, India, on March 4th, 2024. Sri. D.K. Shivakumar, the Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, and Sri. M.B. Patil, the Minister for Large and Medium Industries, Infrastructure Development, declared the Global Business Forum official with the theme “EPIC: Empowering Progress through Innovation and Collaboration.” The inaugural attendees included Vineet Verma, Managing Director, WTC Bengaluru, Chennai, and Kochi, as well as John E. Drew, Chair of WTCA (WTC, Washington, D.C.); also, in attendance were M.R. Jaishankar, Executive Chairman, Brigade Group, and a recently elected WTCA board member.

The event highlighted WTCA’s core mission, “Connecting Businesses Globally”, by shifting focus to the expansion of members’ international trade presence and integration into various global supply chains, was attended by nearly 230 domestic and international businesses, including over 35 member countries/territories. Several Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) were signed by participating nations on the sidelines of the event amongst member countries. During the event, the Bengaluru Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) signed three MOUs, one of which calls for the establishment of virtual offices by the industry body in the Netherlands.

The Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, Sri. D.K. Shivakumar, spoke at the event and stated, “India’s rise is not only a matter of pride for us, but also a matter of opportunity for the world. As a leading nation in research, technology, and innovation, the country is a relevant and responsible partner for development. We are prepared to share our knowledge with other nations and are dedicated to tackling worldwide issues of development, security, health, and climate change. We take great pride in our ranking as industry leaders and pioneers in IT, biotechnology, electronics, and agriculture. Our goal is to transform Bengaluru into a smart, sustainable, and liveable city that is not just a worldwide leader but also a global partner—a city that serves as both a destination and an inspiration. I extend a warm invitation to everyone to come along on this creative and collaborative adventure as we discover Bengaluru’s potential.

“Karnataka aims to become US $ 1 trillion economy by 2032 by developing at a sustained growth rate of 18 percent,” stated Sri. M.B. Patil, Minster for Medium and Large Industries, Infrastructure Development. “Our industrial policy for the years 2020–25 offers multiple financial incentives to make the economy more advantageous for investment. Furthermore, Karnataka will soon become the leading location to produce electric vehicles (EVs), thanks to the introduction of a new sustainable mobile strategy.”

Romal Shetty, CEO of Deloitte South Asia, gave the keynote speech and unveiled a report titled “Karnataka: Powering India’s Growth,” which outlines the main industries that would support Karnataka’s goal of becoming a trillion-dollar economy. In addition, the report includes economic and sectoral trends, tax incentives, and action plans for each sector in Karnataka to move forward. The report sets forth the steps that the government should take to attract investment in key sectors, including clean energy, construction, education, IT/IES, electronics, pharmaceuticals and biotech, start-ups, aerospace and defence, agriculture and food processing, automobiles and auto ancillaries, capital goods, clean energy, and textiles and garments, to fully realise the potential.

The WTCA Chair, John E. Drew, added, saying, “India’s economy is growing rapidly, and this is driving increased demand for commercial infrastructure and international business connectivity. Today, with 40 members representing most of India’s main cities and making contributions to the country’s sustainable development, we have our second-largest membership cluster here. Bengaluru’s entrepreneurial culture makes it the perfect place to explore profitable business prospects and develop synergy in one of the most promising economic regions in the world.”

The newly elected board member of WTCA, Vineet Verma, Managing Director of WTC Bengaluru, Chennai, and Kochi, said, “This is the first time that the WTCA Global Business Forum (GBF) is being conducted in Karnataka. In just two days, we will host more than 200 B2B meetings as part of the GBF. Since most of the foreign delegates are visiting India for the first time, these discussions are likely to be mostly introductory, but we are optimistic that they will eventually result in fruitful collaborations in the days to come. These business-to-business gatherings align with our vision to showcase Karnataka’s industrial prowess to a worldwide audience and our goal of Connecting Businesses Globally.

Five interesting panel discussions were presented on Day 1 of the Global Business Forum. These included “Generating a New World Landscape through AI”, moderated by Nirupa Shankar, Joint Managing Director, Brigade Enterprises Limited and Brigade REAP; “Made in India, A Big-Box Buyer’s Perspective”, presented by Uma Reddy, Vice President, Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI); “Setting Up Shop in India, the Opportunities and Challenges from the International Viewpoint”, moderated by Guruprasad Mudhlapur, President, Bosch Group and Managing Director, Bosch India; “Saagu Baagu, The Case For Effective Public-Private Partnerships in Transforming AgriTech”, presented by Prashanth Gokhale, President, Bühler Group India Private Limited; and “The Driving Forces of Innovation in Real Estate”, presented by Pavitra Shankar, Managing Director, Brigade Enterprises Limited.

Participating in the B2B matchmaking aspect of the event were nearly 110 WTC businesses from 36 countries/territories, including representations from Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China Mainland, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, Iraq, Ireland, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Palestine, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Vietnam, and Yemen.

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