Last year, the PA Chamber was approached by the Kutch Region of India, located in the state of Gujarat, with the request to consider an international trade partnership. After reviewing the economic profile and major business sectors in the region, on Dec. 8, 2020, the PA Chamber agreed to sign a formal trade agreement with the Federation of Kutch Industries Associations — the business and economic development agency for Kutch — during a virtual ceremony with officials from the region. FOKIA is an umbrella organization of large, medium and small industries and associations dedicated to the socio-economic development of the Kutch Region.
Kutch is the largest district of India, covering an area of 45,650 square kilometers in the State of Gujarat, one of the country’s top industrial states. It is the westernmost district of India, with its western coastline open to the Arabian Sea. The town of Bhuj is the district headquarters. Kutch has re-emerged from the ruins of one of the most disastrous earthquakes in its history, that took place in January 2001.
Following the partnership ceremony, the Kutch Region appointed Wilfred Muskens — who previously served as deputy secretary for International Business Development for the Commonwealth and also served under five Pennsylvania governors — as its U.S. Trade Representative in Pennsylvania. In this role, Wilfred assists companies from both Pennsylvania and India identify new export and investment opportunities that will lead to additional sales, capital investment and job creation in both regions.
The Kandra and Mundra sea ports in Kutch are ideal gateways to Asian, African and American markets, offering the shortest land route from any port to western and northern India and accounting for approximately 35 percent of India’s total cargo handling. Kutch is rich in minerals and natural gas. The region is one of the best sites in the world for solar and wind power generation, and is India’s largest manufacturer of solar photovoltaic cells and modules — in fact, currently under construction in the region is the largest renewable energy park in the world, with 30 gW of wind and solar power plants spread over 72,600 hectares north of Bhuj.
Kutch is also home to the world’s largest manufacturing hub for submerged arc welded pipes, and is host to the world’s largest single stream cement plant and the world’s second largest textile plant. It contributes 85 percent of India’s total bromine production, 60 percent of its salt production and 50 percent of its edible oil requirements. Kutch is also India’s biggest timber importer.
The PA Chamber and FOKIA are excited about the economic opportunities presented through this unprecedented partnership. Kutch is the first region in India to have ever appointed its own U.S. Trade Representative, and its office is located at the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia.