Swiss-India Chamber of Commerce (SICC) launched East Chapter in Kolkata on Friday, 8th December 2023, establishing a pivotal platform for Swiss and Indian companies to engage in the exchange of information, experiences, and technology within their respective communities. SICC actively collaborates with influential institutions, partnering to provide insights from relevant research contributing to both national and bi-national progress. With operational hubs in Mumbai and Zurich, SICC has established chapters in key Indian cities including Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Chennai and now in Kolkata, creating a network that encompasses nearly 330 Swiss companies operating in India.
The launch event witnessed the esteemed presence of key figures including H.E. Dr. Ralf Heckner, Ambassador of Switzerland to India & Bhutan; Mr. Satish Rao, President, Swiss-India Chamber of Commerce India; Honorary Consul Mr. Umesh Chowdhary; Mr. Florin Müller, Head, Swiss Business Hub India; Dr. Goutam Bhattacharya, Partner, K&S Partners; and Dr. Rajeev Singh, Director General, Indian Chamber of Commerce.
The inception of this initiative can be linked to the accomplished visit of the Swiss Business Delegation to Sikkim and Assam in February of the current year, led by the esteemed presence of His Excellency, Ambassador Dr. Ralf Heckner. The significant insights and opportunities unveiled during this visit have set the foundation for the inauguration of the SICC Kolkata chapter. This event marks not only a moment of celebration but also a chance to cultivate impactful business connections in the Kolkata region.
The event also revealed that Dr. Subrata Saha, Managing Director, K&S Partners, will serve as the president of the East Chapter, while Arun Chowdhury, Managing Director, Sotefin Parking, will serve as the vice-president.
Delivering the inaugural address, Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce India, President, Satish Rao, said, “On the historic year of 75th anniversary of Indo Swiss friendship treaty, we are thrilled to announce the launch of the Swiss Indian Chamber of Commerce (SICC) India- East chapter in Kolkata, a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to strengthen business ties between Switzerland and India. People have arrived from far off places like Zurich, Bengaluru, Mumbai, etc. to attend this event. West Bengal has been transforming itself rapidly into an economic powerhouse. With a combination of geographical advantages, pro-active government policies, skilled human resources and optimum business environment, the state has emerged as a key player in the country’s growth story. Moreover, its borders with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh make it a leading hub of export. With such growing business opportunities, it is prudent that the Swiss Indian Chamber of Commerce launched its chapter to support trade and investment opportunities through different activities and be a voice of the community to facilitate and promote business opportunities.”
Ms. Meghna Shah, CEO, Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce India, highlights SICC’s impactful role in enhancing trade between the two nations. She said, “Joining SICC means becoming part of a close-knit Indo Swiss family—a community with a strong bond, common heritage and a profound sense of belonging. It’s more than an association; it’s a family offering warmth, understanding, and support. SICC brings together like-minded professionals with similar goals, fostering a collaborative environment for meaningful interactions and business elevations. As a member, it’s not just making connections; it’s expanding family within the Indo Swiss community, where relevance in connectivity is key to success. SICC is a world of opportunities, collaboration, and growth in the Indo Swiss sphere.”
Commenting on the opportunities between India and Switzerland, Honorary Consul of Switzerland in Kolkata, Umesh Chowdhury, said, “This is the sixth chapter in India and the launch will be a turning point in the bilateral trade relations between eastern India, especially West Bengal, and Switzerland. The eastern region of India and Switzerland can derive a lot from numerous commonalities and synergies with respect to market, technology, investments etc. Opening of the chapter is a very significant part of the Indian government’s strategy “Look East”. The Indian economy’s growth is linked to development of all the parts of the country and eastern India has not been able to keep pace with the rest of the country. Therefore, initiatives like this will not only help companies but the country as a whole.”
Speaking at the event, Ambassador of Switzerland to India and Bhutan, Dr. Ralf Heckner, said, “Promoting trade is the pillar of Switzerland’s foreign policy. The Indian Prime Minister’s strategy to ‘Look East’ turned our focus towards that region. We visited the states of Assam, Sikkim and West Bengal to find increasing infrastructure, healthcare facilities and tourism. We also had the third railway dialogue this year and found a lot of Swiss businesses have interest in the sector. So, there are four verticals of interest. And this chapter will play a crucial role in bolstering bilateral trade between the two regions.”
Commenting on the issue, Swiss Business Hub India Head, Florin Muller, said, “ We have been tasked with the job of bringing in Swiss businesses to India by providing them with the required market entry. And the efforts wouldn’t have been fruitful with the aid from SICC. One of the most important aspects of business is networking and we should put impetus on that to bring businesses here.”
Iterating Indian Chamber of Commerce’s support for the new chapter, Director General, Dr. Rajeev Singh, said, “The new chapter shows the confidence of Switzerland in the growth of the region. Our bilateral relations are based on mutual respect and strategy. Both the governments have supported each other at the global stage. The emerging trends from the eastern region include agro, food procession and technology among others. However, they lack connections to the global market. This chapter will serve as a bridge to boost the sectors.”
Commenting at the session, K&S Partners, Partner, Gautam Bhattacharya, said, “As we embark on this journey of fostering collaboration between these two nations , it is imperative to recognise the importance of intellectual property. It is an indicator of the country’s progress.”