Interview with Mr Vijay Kalantri, Vice-Chairman of the World Trade Centre in Mumbai and a Board Member of the World Trade Center in New York & President of All India Association of Industries.

He has long and impressive curriculum vitae. Not only is he the President of the Indian Council of Foreign Trade, he is also the President of the All-India Association of Industries, the Indo-Arab Chamber of Commerce, the Indo-Polish Chamber of Commerce and Indo-Mauritius Chamber of Commerce. However, this is not all, Mr Kalantri is the chairman of numerous associations and has a lot on his plate. We met him in New York where he was attending the Conference on Peace and Trade at UN Headquarters.
Q: Why did you attend this seminar on Peace and Stability through Trade?
It’s very important that the world economic development is sustained so that nations prosper. Global trade as a vehicle of economic growth plays a significant role in promoting social well-being by providing economic sustenance and improving the quality of life of the people. For centuries, trade has nurtured human life and promoted social bonding and peaceful co-existence.
The way things are happening in the world, there is universal call for peace. If peace prevails, there is economic growth ––there is trade.
The world should be a place where everybody can live in peace. I think that the World Trade Centre bridges that motto with this seminar of Trade and Peace. The way things are going in this world, peace has to prevail, and it’s only through trade and development that peace can prevail. Trade is one of the most important vehicles of economic prosperity and trade helps alleviate poverty and ensures that people become more prosperous–– the world is a better place to live. This is the way peace and stability is achieved through trade.
Q: We hear a lot about India today. The economy is booming, everything is happening very fast. Does this benefit everybody and do you think this contributes to the stability of the country.
Yes, I think the GDP is growing at the rate of 9% per year. Manufacturing growth has been more than 12 %to 15%. When the economy is growing everybody is benefitting from it to a larger extent. I would not say that every person is benefiting, but to a large extent many of the people in India will benefit from it. This is good for India as a whole.
Q: You are based in the World Trade Centre in Mumbai. What exactly do you do?
World Trade Centre works towards fostering trade, not only domestic trade but also international trade. At World Trade Centre Mumbai, we receive various trade delegations and dignitaries from the world over. We also promote trade between India and other countries. The World Trade Centre works as a catalyst in promoting trade between one country and another, and especially in India we promote trade from India abroad and vice versa; global businesses can penetrate the Indian market and we are able to penetrate foreign markets. This is the way we come to know the various avenues of trade, which are the products to be exported, which are the countries where we can do more business, etc. These are the fields where we play a very important role.
Q: India has just said that it will no longer export its rice. Do you think that this is a “bad example” for international trade?
I do agree this may not be the correct step because India is a major supplier to the world market for rice and this step may be retrograde to global consumers of this commodity. But in the present context of severe global food shortages, India had to take recourse to this measure to meet urgent domestic supplies, which is a national priority. I am sure as the national and global situation improves, Indian government will relax its policies.
Q: The Indian IT-business is famous worldwide. What else do you have to sell?
IT has become a brand of India, but we also have textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and agro products. We have a lot of products on the world market, and I think the world has started to accept India as a supplier of quality products and as a credible trading partner. India has a growing economy, but it also has derived a lot of strength and credibility from being the world’s biggest democracy.
The entrepreneurs in India are dynamic and the government supports all the trade policies. I think lot of efforts have been put into this since the 1990s, when we started the economic reforms. We are moving in the right direction. The day is not far when India will become one of the top economies in the world.
India is a very different country –– we have transparency, we have very good labour laws, we have English-speaking people, and we are God-fearing people.
Q: If people are interested in doing business with India, what should they do?
I will be pleased to be of assistance. The World Trade Centre Mumbai and the All India Association of Industries will be offering them our best services so that they know what to do in India, and also to learn from them what we can do in their countries.
Q: You are based in the west of India, so do you only promote the businesses that are in your region or do you promote all kinds of businesses?
We promote all kinds of businesses, as we have members from all sectors. There is no specific sector, and we receive delegations from all parts of the world. We will be more than pleased to receive foreign delegates in Mumbai, organizing trade shows, etc.
Q: Finally do you have a message to our readers?
The world is looking to India because there are a lot of things happening here. You must come yourself to see what is happening in India. There are opportunities for you in India, in the same way there are opportunities for us in your country.