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VISA POLICIES REMAIN ONLY HURDLE TO BUSINESS, SAYS N M KEJRIWAL

India urges joint Slovak business ventures

N M Kejriwal, chairman of the Kejriwal Group of Companies, is the head of the India-Slovak Joint Business Council, established a decade ago to build business bridges between the countries. With Slavic business connections going back four decades, N M Kejriwal has experience and insight into the economic possibilities between Slovakia and India.
In an interview with The Slovak Spectator, N M Kejriwal describes what he sees as the primary business opportunities between the two nations, and urges specific Slovak sectors to take advantage of India's wealth of resources.


N M KEJRIWAL has strong connections to Slovak trade.
photo: Beata Balogová

N M Kejriwal, chairman of the Kejriwal Group of Companies, is the head of the India-Slovak Joint Business Council, established a decade ago to build business bridges between the countries. With Slavic business connections going back four decades, N M Kejriwal has experience and insight into the economic possibilities between Slovakia and India.

In an interview with The Slovak Spectator, N M Kejriwal describes what he sees as the primary business opportunities between the two nations, and urges specific Slovak sectors to take advantage of India's wealth of resources.


The Slovak Spectator (TSS): You have an impressive history with Slovakia.

N M Kejriwal (NMK):I have been attached to Czechoslovakia since 1967, and Slovakia - such a beautiful country - since 1991. I have been to Slovakia more than 40 times! In 1992, Kejriwal Group of Companies set up a joint venture with [Slovak textile company] Tatrasvit for the production of knitted garments. The venture operated for more than two years until a Hungarian company took over.

Yes, Kejriwal has had links with Slovakia for years. We imported good quality steel from East Slovak Ironworks for a decade, but after US Steel took it over, the price was no longer competitive for us.


INDIA is a resource-rich nation with a long cultural history.
photo: Beata Balogová


TSS: What Slovak industries are most interesting to Indian businesses?

NMK: India has a rich tradition and vast experience in the textile industry; we produce fine raw materials. For example, we have high quality yarn that could be supplied for final production of garments in Slovakia. That would make a good joint venture I think.

India also produces high quality leather. In return, Slovakia could give us the know-how for processing and footwear production. Slovakia's footwear industry is very effective, which makes the possibility of Slovak-Indian joint ventures in this sector more than desirable.


Hyderabad is ready to welcome new business.
photo: Beata Balogová

There are also Indian fruit products that could be used in the Slovak food processing industry or dried fruit production. India can supply Slovakia with mango, guava, papaya and banana that you could then blend with your fruits. Joint ventures in food processing are also a great possibility.

India is a great country for honey exports. There are possibilities that Indian honey could be blended with Slovak production and exported to EU countries. In this regard I have already held talks with Slovak food producer Novofruct. The final agreement could be signed in January or February. We are quite close - all the samples and technical certificates are in place.

TSS: Will you expand to other EU countries? How does Slovakia's EU membership modify India's cooperation prospects?

NMK: Since Slovakia is an EU member, you now belong to a population market of 450 million. We now view Slovakia as India's gateway to the EU. If we want to export to EU countries, we can do it through you, and that is possible only if we establish joint ventures.


PRESIDENTIAL gates in New Delhi are swinging open...
photo: Beata Balogová


The EU says that you cannot re-export products unless you have 60 percent of your original elements in that product. That means that 60 percent of the product must be produced in Slovakia, and 40 percent of the product can come from other countries, such as India. At that point you can declare the product "made in the Slovak Republic". Once declared as such, the product can go to other EU countries. In this regard, joint ventures become extremely important.


TSS: Do you see Slovak companies setting up businesses in India as a realistic prospect?

NMK: There are certain items produced in Slovakia for which joint ventures could be set up in India. Slovakia produces world-famous crystal glass and has an advanced technology in this sector. India produces basic raw material, which is a precondition for setting up successful joint ventures.


TIMES of India Resident Editor Dina Vakil poses in front of her framed picture of Old Bratislava in her office in Bombay.
photo: Beata Balogová

I hope that some of these Slovak companies will come to India. The companies would bring their technical know-how and we would supply the raw material. We would require the technical expertise, though. We know that Slovaks can create miracles with glass in a minute. I say send your experts to India for one year.


TSS: What do you see as barriers to business?

NMK: Visa policies remain the only major barrier.

Also, people in Slovakia still do not know enough about Indian products and vice-versa. It all requires good publicity. We should participate in more fairs and exhibitions like the one in Nitra [Agrocomplex, agricultural fair]. Indian companies could participate in these fairs, and Slovak companies should come to India. People are not aware of the progress that India has made over the past decade, and we need to communicate that.

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