Mumbai: Is the post-COVID world ready for a steadier round of Indo-US collaboration? This question was among some of the highlights of the evening’s ‘Advantage India’ webinar on bilateral investment between the two nations today. Organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC), the webinar saw industry doyens and Minister of Commerce, Industry and Railways, Piyush Goyal address the future for the two nations.
“The very bedrock for the relationship between India and US is that it’s between two democracies – the world’s oldest and the world’s largest democracy… We both deeply believe in the rule of law, national interests and respect each other’s national interests”, said the minister.
The webinar kickstarts a bilateral investment series, as an address to global investors. Alongside Goyal, it saw Kaku Nakhate, President and Country Head, Bank of America, Ramesh Nair, CEO and Country Head, India- JLL, Chris Franzen, General Manager, Grand Hyatt Hotels and members from Team IACC, talk about mutual investment opportunities within these nations.
Naushad Panjwani, Regional President, West India Council, IACC talked about how international dynamics have changed over the years. “The world is changing and changing in a way none of us had imagined. Trust, values, ethics and governance are now at the centre stage. Over the centuries, the trade model has evolved from conquering to colonisation to competition & cartels. And now it is time for COLLABORATIONS”, he said.
“The US is now the largest merchandise trading partner for India, and we’re extremely delighted by it. The time is ripe to further expand the exchange between US and India at the political, business and people to people levels”, Panjwani added.
In what can be construed as a rebuttal against a neighbouring nation, the union minister emphasised how India cannot afford to remain dependant on ‘low cost, low quality’ products and needs self-reliance, built alongside investment from global partners. Here, he invited investments, trust and collaboration with countries in North America, South America and Europe.
The Atmanirbhar plan, he shared, was about building this competitive advantage through skilled domestic workforce and availability of certain raw materials. As an example, he shared that sectors like steel, oil and gas, medical devices and manufacturing can benefit and develop through global collaborations.
Adding to these observations, Kaku Nakhate, President and Country Head, Bank of America, highlighted how the defence could be another such melting pot. “India incurs a defence CAPEX of $14bn every year. This opens a large potential for US companies to participate in this sector. Our liberal FDI policies and need for import substitution make sectors like defence, electronic manufacturing and pharma the sunshine sectors for Indo-US collaboration”, she said.
Office leasing was another recommendation. “For the last few years, American companies are leasing office spaces more than Indian companies in India. Gives a clear indication of how serious the USA is about India”, said Ramesh Nair, CEO & Country Head, India, JLL.
The ‘Advantage India’, Nakhate rationalised, was about what the country uniquely brought to the table for any global investor. “The ease of Indian laws, friendly FDI regulations, a young demographic and the largest middle-class population, make India the ideal field for investment.”
Our biggest asset, Union Minister Piyush Goyal concurred, was the fact that we are a demand-driven economy. “There are 1.5 bn Indians aspiring for a better quality of life – that’s why there would forever be growth”.
Any other notes that investors should keep in mind? “If you do decide to invest in India, my recommendation would be to engage with partners who hold valuable information and experience in navigating the sectors and laws of the respective state. This would ensure you go through the process of opening a company and investing in the country swiftly”, explained Chris Franzen, General Manager, Grand Hyatt Hotels.
The group also hopes for more significant things with this series on bilateral investment. Nilesh Vikamsey, Chairman, BFSI Committee, West India Council at IACC said, “This was the day 37 years ago that India won the Cricket World Cup for the first time in 1983. Similarly this day, the launch of the webinar series on Advantage India by IACC, will trigger huge investments into India from the world.”