India Modi pitches new defence FDI norms, aviation and other sectors to US investors

File Photo: American President Trump with Indian Prime Minister Modi in Feb.

By Amit Agnihotri

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today pitched India as one of the most attractive global investment destination and urged American multinational companies and corporate sector to pump in money into key sectors such as defence, aviation, infrastructure, technology, agriculture and other manufacturing industries.

Modi pointed out that India has attracted $74 billion as Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in the last financial year ending March 2020, which he said was up by 20 per cent over the previous fiscal.

Playing upon India’s strengths of being the world’s largest democracy as well as a promising investment destination, Modi highlighted the growing United States and India convergence, which could be a model for the world trying to recover from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

“The US and India are natural partners. This partnership can play an important role in helping the world bounce back faster after the pandemic. There has never been a better time to invest in India,” the prime minister told the US investors highlighting that even during the pandemic, India attracted FDI worth over $20 billion between April and July 2020.

He was addressing the ‘India Ideas Summit‘ hosted by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) on the theme ‘Building a Better Future‘.

Before the Indian prime minister presented business opportunities in India, Minister of External Affairs Dr S. Jaishankar flagged the deepening relations between the two democracies at the summit and highlighted the need for them to work towards reshaping the new World Order.

US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, who also addressed the meet, backed India’s tough stance against China in the ongoing conflict along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh and condemned the Chinese aggression.

As the PM wooed the US companies, he noted that reforms carried out over the past six years had raised global optimism about the South Asian country.

Claiming India has what is needed to power the global economic recovery post the pandemic, the prime minister played on fears in the minds of global investors over the role of China (from where the Coronavirus originated) and said that India’s rise means a rise in trade opportunities with a nation that can be trusted.

The world economies have suffered huge losses due to the lock downs implemented to curb the pandemic and share concerns over the role of Chinese government in hiding information about the spread of the virus from the global community.

“A rise in global integration with increasing openness, a rise in competitiveness with access to a market which offers scale, and a rise in returns on investment with the availability of skilled human resources,” Modi said.

Talking about technology, the PM flagged a recent survey which revealed there are more rural internet users in India than urban internet users and said opportunities lie in areas of frontier technologies like 5G, Big Data Analytics, Quantum Computing, Blockchain and Internet of Things.

The remarks come in the wake of US Information Technology giant Google Inc. announcing to invest $10 billion in India over the next five to seven years at a time when several large MNC were looking to relocate businesses from an increasingly aggressive China.

The opportunities, said the prime minister, are also there in areas related to agriculture, supply chain, food processing sector, fisheries and organic produce besides the healthcare sector, which is growing at more than 22 per cent per year.

Housing, energy, roads, highways and ports, civil aviation too offered good investment opportunities to the US investors, he said.

Particularly referring to the defence sector, the prime minister said India has allowed FDI up to 74 percent and has set up two Defence Industrial Corridors to encourage production of equipment and platforms. Path-breaking reforms are taking place in the space sector, he pointed out.

Inviting investors in finance and insurance sectors, the prime minister noted India has raised the FDI cap in insurance to 49 percent and 100 percent in insurance intermediaries.

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