Potential US investors shy of investing in Bengal

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Kolkata, Sep 26 (UNI) The Singur conflict has turned shy the potential American investors, worrying for the honour to signed agreements and security of workforce in West Bengal, US Consul General in India Beth A Payne today said.

'' Unfortunately, conflicts like we are seeing in Singur cause American investors to question whether West Bengal can offer the essential elements..they worry that signed agreements may be discarded for political reasons... '' she said while speaking at an interactive session with members of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here.

Stating that American investors looked for stability, transparency, rule of law and a respect for agreements and contracts before opening business, Ms Payne said the question they were also raising was whether their projects would be '' free from political battles and that other entitites will not interfere with their business model. '' It was also their concern if their workforce would feel secure if there was a disagreement about contracts that were signed with government agencies, she said.

'' American investors are watching how conflicts such as the one in Singur are resolved--and noting whether they are resolved quickly, nonviolently and with an understanding that signed agreements must be upheld, '' the Consul General said.

The US Consul General's statement came a day after German Consul General in Kolkata Guenther Wehrmann warned that non-issuance of APMC licence to the retail major Metro Cash and Carry would sound a death knell for future German investors in West Bengal.

Mr Wehrmann had said all the German investors, intending to come to West Bengal, had stopped taking any initiative and were following very closely the developments at Singur.

Ms Payne, who was of praise for West Bengal for having the necessary factors for attracting investment, said a trade mission of the US India Business Council, headed by representatives of Cargill and Boeing, was scheduled to visit Kolkata, but ''decided to bypass West Bengal for the time being'' because of the Singur problem.

'' Unfortunately, these companies asked if Ratan Tata cannot succeed in West Bengal, how an American investor can hope to succeed there...it is regrettable that West Bengal lost such an important opportunity to showcase the best it has to offer, '' she said.

UNI KDG SJC AB 1822

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