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Come, invest in India’s growth, open economy: Modi

Modi

Kuala Lumpur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked the global investment community to set up shop in India and benefit from its fast growth, strong fundamentals, constant reforms and a welcoming environment.

Starting his first set of engagements here during his five-day, two-nation visit to Malaysia and Singapore, the prime minister also announced a $1-billion credit line to expand trade with Asean and promised electronic visas soon for the nationals of its 10 members.

He also called for concerted global action against terrorism and asked the leaderships of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam to participate in the solar alliance he has proposed among 122 countries.

“By almost every major economic indicator India’s doing better than when we took office 18 months ago,” Modi said in his first regional meeting, the India-Asean Business Summit, and said this was visible in growth, inflation, interest rates, deficit, foreign capital inflows and tax revenues.

“Obviously, this did not happen by accident. The world economy is not exactly doing well. This success is the result of a series of concerted policies,” he said, adding the idea was not to reform alone but to reform for transformation.

“Most of the Asean economies have done their bit for Asia’s resurgence. Now it is India’s turn,” Modi said to loud applause after his arrival here in the early hours of Saturday for the 13th Asean-India Summit and the 10th East Asia Summit.

“We know that our time has come.”

Addressing the Asean-India Summit, Modi said he was pleased to see bilateral trade grow to $76.5 billion in 2014-15 after some decline, adding the regional grouping was India’s largest partner for investment in both directions.

He also raised the issue of climate change, ahead of the crucial 12-day global meet in Paris from November 30. “India has ambitious clean energy plans: 175 GW of additional capacity of renewable energy by 2022, and 40 percent of energy through non-fossil fuel by 2030,” he said.

“I have also proposed an international solar alliance of 122 solar-rich countries, which French President (Francois) Hollande and I will launch in Paris on November 30. We look forward to your participation in the launch and the alliance.”

The prime minister also had several bilateral meetings on the margins of the summit, notably with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who hosted him for lunch. In both meetings, held separately, the leaders said there was much to gain in their bilateral ties.

“India-Japan ties have the greatest potential of any bilateral relationship in the world,” said Abe. Premier Li, on his part, said India and China have more common interests than divergences, with compatible development strategies that have the scope for further consolidation.

At the business summit, the Indian prime minister outlined a host of measures taken to make his country an investment-friendly destination, notably through campaigns such as “Make in India”, “Digital India” and “Skill India”.

“I invite you to come and see the winds of change in India,” he said, adding: “Winds take time to cross the borders. That is why I am here to invite you, personally.”

Modi said his government was working hard to cut complicated procedures and making them available on one platform, preferably online, besides simplifying paperwork on a war footing. “That’s how we have jumped up by 12 ranks in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report of 2016.”

This, he said, has also resulted in foreign investment inflows growing 40 percent this year, and the country jumping six places in Unctad’s ranking of investment attractiveness and the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, besides an outlook upgrade by Moody’s.

Listing some recent initiatives, he said foreign equity caps were eased in some key sectors such as insurance, defence and railways, permissions for approvals were placed under automatic route, foreign portfolio investment norms were relaxed and the regime of retrospective tax had ended.

“These are just a few examples. Almost on a daily basis, we are trying to remove the bottlenecks that were affecting our growth process. Even early this month, we took very dynamic steps to further open up the economy for foreign direct investment,” he said.

“With this round of reforms, we are among the most open economies in the world.”

The prime minister also sought to address some of the concerns the global investors had. “Going further, I want to assure you India is committed to protecting intellectual property rights,” he said, adding: “We’re moving fast to make sure our tax regime is transparent and predictable.”