Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the Narendra Modi government would underline its intent to create a more open investment environment for foreign firms.
Speaking to reporters here ahead of trade talks with her counterpart Gao Hucheng, Ms. Sitharaman said she would have a clear message for her Chinese interlocutors. “When we are inviting investment we cannot be sitting on a ton load of bureaucratic difficulty,” she said. “We are inviting investment with the sense that ease of business is important.”
“Our efforts are towards fulfilling that kind of expectation, not just from Chinese but within India too, we want to restore confidence in the economy,” the Commerce Minister said.
Ms. Sitharaman said greater Chinese investment, for instance through industrial parks, would pave the way for narrowing the record trade deficit which ballooned to $31 billion last year, when bilateral trade declined from a high of $ 73 billion in 2011 to $ 65 billion.
With Chinese manufacturing flooding the Indian market, Ms. Sitharaman said, “What is important is to find a production activity to be centred in India so that jobs are created for Indians. The Prime Minister’s message is to have growth tied up with employment, we don’t want growth devoid of jobs,” she said.
While conveying India’s openness to Chinese investment, Ms. Sitharaman will also stress the need for greater market access for Indian goods and services, from gems and jewellery and grey cotton fabrics to IT and pharmaceuticals. Indian companies have expressed to the Commerce Minister in interactions here that unwieldy regulations and trade barriers were blocking their entry.
The Modi government, Ms. Sitharaman said, would also explore ways to follow China’s example in providing more government support to firms going abroad.
“When looking at long term investments for our operations going abroad, long term funding, long term hand holding, is something on which the government of India can spend more time,” she said.
“When operations from China go to African countries for instance, there is a way in which where private conglomerates or the government help to fund, take care of them, hand hold them until they find roots there. So these kind of facilitations that happen through the Chinese government may not happen from the Indian side. If it is possible, we have to apply our mind on that.”