India poised to become global manufacturing hub: Akbar

New delhi: India is poised to become the world’s manufacturing hub, Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar said on Wednesday, adding that there is a “wealth of opportunity and the energy of positive excitement” between India and the Arab world.

“India is poised to become the world’s manufacturing hub; it is already a hub for R&D and innovation as well as technology start-ups,” Akbar said while addressing the Fifth India-Arab Partnership Conference in Muscat, Oman.

“The Indian start-up industry has over 20,000 companies, creating over $80 billion of value, employing nearly 3,25,000 people,” he said in his speech, a copy of which was released by the External Affairs Ministry here.

Akbar said large numbers of young and educated Indians were employed in the Indian IT industry, which itself was generating revenues of over $170 billion and exports of over $110 billion annually.

“India is preparing itself for transformation under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi through sweeping changes in regulatory and administrative reforms,” he stated.

“The Goods and Services Act provides a single tax framework across the country for all goods and services by April 2017.”
He said that the FDI regime has been liberalised with the defence sector also being opened to foreign investments.
“More sectors are now opened for 100 per cent investment through the automatic route. The new bankruptcy law will be operational soon,” he stated.

The Minister stated that by 2017, the average time for pending IPR application in India would come down from five-seven years to 18 months and trademark registration to one month.

“The time taken to obtain environmental clearances for projects has already been brought down from 600 days to 180 days. The aim is to reduce this to 100 days.”

Stating that India and the Arab world “have always been bridged by enormous goodwill”, he said governments were best when they acted as enablers and paved the way for citizens to find one another.

“This has already happened. There are 700 flights a week between India and UAE (United Arab Emirates) alone! Our annual bilateral trade has crossed $184 billion – it is more than 25 per cent of India’s global trade. India’s energy security pillar is the Gulf and West Asia. The Maghreb is our major source of phosphate and fertiliser.”

Stating that the India-Oman relationship could be a model, he said that both countries were maritime neighbours.
“Apart from extensive defence and security cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, bilateral trade and investment are key pillars of the India-Oman bilateral partnership. Today, there are around 3,000 joint ventures between Indian and Omani partners in Oman with a total investment of around $7.5 billion,” Akbar said.

Stating that there was still a lot that could be achieved between India and the Arab world, he stated: “I do not see the glass as half full; in fact it is not even quarter full. Normally, such a statement might be tinged with a trace of regret, but for me, the empty space represents the wealth of opportunity and the energy of positive excitement.”

However, he warned that the menace of terrorism posed a threat to “such a shining prospect”.
“There can be no prosperity without peace and the existentialist challenge to peace in our times comes from a barbaric evil: terrorism,” Akbar said.

“We have already seen the havoc it has inflicted, the wars it has instigated, the massive instability it has triggered in regions that had begun to move towards social calm and economic growth. Terrorism generates not only conflict on battlefields; it sows fear in the midst of plural societies, building walls of dread among people who have lived together for ages.”

The Minister said India and the Arab countries “must become partners against this life threatening menace, terrorism”.
“As our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) has said and repeated: there is no good or bad terrorism. Such evil does not have shades. Hypocrisy and complacence in dealing with this evil is suicidal,” he stated without directly naming Pakistan.

Started in 2008, this year’s edition of the India-Arab Partnership Conference is being hosted by the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.