Assuring that he will “personally act as a bridge” if there is any gap, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday pitched India as “the only destination” for American investment across a range of sectors — from defence to start-ups, infrastructure to urbanisation.
On the economic environment, he said India’s “democracy” and its “judiciary being in English” are key advantages for potential investors.
Addressing the Bloomberg global business forum in New York, with “Come to India” as his punchline, Modi said: “Your desires and our dreams match perfectly, your technology and our talent can change the world, your scale and our skills can speed up global economic growth. Your prudent method and our pragmatic mind can write new stories in management, your rational ways and our human values can show the path which the world is looking for. And if there is any gap anywhere, I will personally act as a bridge.”
Modi said: “India is waiting for you… India is the only destination… I am ready to welcome you.”
The Prime Minister later met the CEOs of top American companies, including Lockheed Martin, Bank of America, Shell and Coca Cola, for a roundtable meeting. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) tweeted that the agenda included “harnessing investment opportunities in India and boosting commercial linkages between India and USA”.
The PMO also tweeted video clips of the CEOs reacting after the interaction. While Shell CEO Ben van Beurden described Modi’s speech as “strong and comprehensive”, Coca Cola CEO James Quincey said he was “really excited to be in the Prime Minister’s investment summit”.
Describing the meeting as “excellent”, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson congratulated India on its “pro-growth policies”. “I went to the meeting… optimistic but I come out even more optimistic about India,” said IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.
Earlier, at the business forum, Modi pointed out that India’s youth is one of the largest users of the app economy — from food to transport and movies to hyperlocal delivery — and said that there were start-ups everywhere. “Thus, if you want to invest in start-ups with a huge market, come to India,” he said.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 25, 2019
“Our infrastructure creation is expanding at an unprecedented pace. From highways to metros, from railways to ports, from airports to logistics, each sector is seeing massive investment and tremendous potential. Thus, if you want to invest in one of the world’s largest infrastructure ecosystem, come to India,” he said.
“We are rapidly modernising our cities, and equipping them with latest technology and citizen friendly infrastructure. Thus, if you want to invest in urbanisation, come to India,” Modi said.
“We have opened our defence sector like never before. If you want to Make in India, for India and for the world, come to India,” he said.
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He then listed out the achievements of his government and how it has reduced the time taken for companies to get power connections and cited several improvements in global rankings on ease of doing business. He also spoke about efforts in “de-bottlenecking” to facilitate business.
Speaking about economic environment in India during an interactive session with Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg and former Mayor of New York, Modi said that no one can do any isolated economic activity in the country and are “interdependent”.
India’s “judiciary being in English” makes it an attractive destination for foreign investors, Modi said, since it ensures “uniform interpretation” of laws and agreements.
On skills development, Modi said India’s youth population is an asset to meet the requirements of a global work force. He cited the example of India sending a skilled work force to Japan.
Referring to social media, Modi said: “Social media has become a powerful instrument of democracy. It’s encouraging to see established media take up initiatives to counter fake news.”
Citing an incident where he was able to issue instructions to save lives in a flood-hit area of Gujarat, Modi said: “I have ordered action based on incidents that catch my eye.”
Later, Bloomberg and Modi announced a partnership to step up global investment in India. Bloomberg said in a statement that they agreed on two key issues.
First, it said, is navigating inclusion in Global Benchmark Indices: “Together with the Finance ministry, Reserve Bank of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India and key financial institutions, Bloomberg will work with India to navigate the process to gain inclusion in global benchmark indices to significantly increase the country’s ability to attract capital to its bond markets.”
Second, it said, Bloomberg would support the development of the International Financial Services Center, and hold a series of workshops to identify global best practices to enable the IFSC to achieve its full potential as a world-class international financial hub.