Realigned supply chain calls for digital transformation of MSMEs

MSMEs should participate in virtual trade platforms to access global market

“MSMEs need to adopt digital technologies to participate in Global supply chain, which is realigning after the outbreak of the pandemic. MSMEs need to be agile by adopting digital technologies to capture procurement opportunities from MNCs that want to diversify their sourcing to more reliable destinations. MSMEs are the backbone of the economy and they need support in terms of low cost finance, technology and marketing assistance. We are happy that Government of India has rolled out key reforms and incentives to realize the grand vision of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat. We hope these proactive measures will help Indian MSMEs cope with the challenges of this pandemic. Recent data on GST collection and other indicators show recovery in automobile, engineering, food processing and other sectors.” said Mr. Vijay Kalantri, President, All India Association of Industries (AIAI) at the webinar on “Reboot Trade and Connect with Global Supply Chains”. The webinar was organised by MVIRDC World Trade Center Mumbai (WTC Mumbai) jointly with Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and All India Association of Industries (AIAI).

Mr. Kalantri recalled that in the past, AIAI and WTC Mumbai organised conference and exhibitions jointly with their MoU partner HKTDC to support global market access of local SMEs. He concluded his remarks by proposing to conduct more such events in future to facilitate trade and industry.

In her remarks, Ms. Rupa Naik, Senior Director - MVIRDC World Trade Center Mumbai raised concern that hardly 10% of Indian MSMEs are digitally empowered and hence there is a need to support these enterprises adopt digital platforms.

Ms. Naik explained how WTC Mumbai is supporting MSMEs navigate through this challenging time by organising virtual trade programmes. WTC Mumbai has organised several knowledge sessions and workshops in collaboration with WTC Winnipeg (Canada), WTC Trieste (Italy), WTC Metro Manila (Philippines), WTC Utah (USA) and WTCs in other regions. Ms. Naik informed about Handloom Expo, which is the unique virtual exhibition to connect local weavers and artisans to global market.

Ms. Naik informed that, in future, WTC Mumbai will conduct similar virtual exhibitions in wellness & healthcare, textile, engineering, auto-components, plastics, chemicals, agro-processing, electronic and electrical sectors.

Ms. Naik also raised awareness about other trade support activities of WTC Mumbai, including its reciprocity desk and trade education courses for aspiring exporters.

In his remarks, Mr. Rajesh Bhagat, South Asia Consultant, Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) suggested Indian MSMEs to use Hong Kong as gateway to their participation in global supply chain. He said Hong Kong is the Central Business District of Asia and it is ranked the 5th most competitive economy in the world (by IMD, Switzerland 2020). Hong Kong has the world’s 8th largest container port, second largest forex market in Asia and it is part of the megalopolis Greater Bay Area connecting nine cities of China. More than 9000 MNCs have presence in Hong Kong and 70 of the world’s top 100 banks have regional office in this special administrative region.

Mr. Bhagat invited Indian SMEs to avail of the integrated marketing solution offered by HKTDC through its Product magazines, Mobile Apps, online marketplace and world class trade fairs. Especially, he explained how HKTDC deploys artificial intelligence for connecting exhibitors and suppliers on its digital platform.

Mr. Sthiradhi Das, Senior Manager – Own Label & Exclusive Brands Infiniti Retail Limited (A Tata Enterprise) highlighted how Government of India’s recent policy measures have transformed the nature of global sourcing by Indian industry. He said, “With government imposing restriction on imports, Indian manufacturers started full-fledged local assembly by importing completely knocked down products or semi-knocked down products. India is making progress towards becoming a mass manufacturing hub as local brands are shifting from import of completely built units to semi-knock down units.”

Mr. Das also highlighted how the pandemic has increased consumer demand for lap tops, tablets, home appliances and personal grooming products to adapt to the new life style created by the nation-wide lockdown.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Andy Lam, CEO and Founder, A&A Ltd., Hong Kong suggested MSMEs to adopt digital technologies such as chatbots, video chats, search engine optimization and digital content management to promote their brands online. He also highlighted the significance of promoting company products and brands through social media such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

The event was attended by more than 150 delegates representing trade & industry, academia and consular corps.