President of US-India Business Council (USIBC) Nisha Desai Biswal has said India should present its growth vision and why businesses should look to invest in the country at a time when the global economy is beset with challenges. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the US later this month. Biswal, 55, said the USIBC members are eager to hear from him.
“The recent economic reforms announced (in India) have assured global investors that the Modi government is very seized with managing this economy and bringing India back into a more robust growth scenario,” she said.
Citing media reports of challenges facing the Indian as well as the global economy, Biswal said the same challenges could be seen as opportunities.
“There’s a great deal of hope and expectation that Prime Minister (Modi) with the robust mandate that he has and with his track record for being able to make bold, decisive moves — which we’ve seen on a number of different fronts — India will be able to come out of this in a much stronger position,” Biswal, one of the top ranking Indian-American officials in former US President Barack Obama’s administration, told PTI in an interview.
“The (next) six to 12 months are going to be really critical. You have a UK that right now is very focused on Brexit. What the impact of Brexit is going to be on the UK economy… There is some economic uncertainty in other major markets as well,” Biswal said.
Though India can benefit from the changing global markets, Biswal noted, it can do so with major reforms. “India has an opportunity to take the broader challenges that are besetting the global economy and say, ‘here’s what we are doing’ and articulate a very clear and compelling vision to attract investment,” she added.
Biswal said some of the protectionist elements in Indian policies could be looked into. She lauded the recent reforms announced by Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, saying they would address concerns about flagging FDI and make the country attractive for investments.
“But what investors are looking for is a certainty and stability of economic policies that project the vision for India’s economy over the next five years and beyond. In this more volatile global climate, investors are looking for a safe harbour for their investment,” Biswal said.
India, she asserted, needs to project a strong and consistent policy direction that will guide it over the next five years. It needs to create policy and regulatory coherence.
Biswal said government reforms should be implemented with great coherence to ensure separate policies are not clashing with each other.
“That policy stability and coherence will reassure investors and attract for investment,” she said. She observed more top-down direction and coordination across the board would reassure the global investor community that India is the bet for the long-term that they should be making right now.
“While we’re still not quite there, I think some really important positive steps have been announced over the past two weeks,” Biswal said.
Observing that the Indian economy is driven by domestic consumption, Biswal said now was the time for the country to foster export-oriented growth
“India would benefit from a more open and liberalised trade policy that allows companies to make in India and export globally that eases restrictions on local content. I think India is taking some steps on that. I know that they announced 100 per cent FDI in contract manufacturing. I think that’s a big step,” Biswal said.