NEW DELHI: India’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ programme aims to transform Asia’s third largest economy into a global nerve centre of supply chains, a senior foreign ministry official said Friday.
Speaking at an event organised by the New Delhi-based PHD Chamber of Commerce on the ‘Role of Indian Economic Diplomacy in Making India Self Reliant’, Rahul Chhabra, secretary, economic relations, in the Indian foreign ministry urged Indian businesses to take advantage of ongoing government programmes like the lines of credit extended to countries to showcase Indian expertise in project, planning design and execution.
Chhabra noted that covid-19 pandemic had caused the fastest economic decline ever recorded in history and this was a continuing phenomenon given that countries were still emerging from lockdowns.
“Globally there has been a geo-political, geo-economic and geo-strategic shift” due to the pandemic, Chhabra said.
India’s response has been to reboot and revamp the economy in a bid to emerge from the world’s largest lockdown, he said. The government’s focus has been to increase demand, boost farmers’ incomes and lend support to the micro, small and medium enterprises as part of its attempts to re-invigorate the economy.
In this context, India’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ programme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May is not “inward looking” but aimed at “making us the global nerve centre of the supply chains,” he said, adding, “what is significant is that it shows the confidence of the government in the capabilities of the private sector.”
Indian industry had already demonstrated its ability to respond to the global pandemic by scaling production and export of drugs required by countries around the world. The Indian companies had also stepped up the manufacture of personal protection equipment which was now being exported.
Urging the local manufacturers to seize opportunities opening up, Chhabra said in the past five years, India had extended 300 lines of credit worth over $30 billion to over 60 countries. Indian industry could look at these lines of credit as opportunities given the provision that projects undertaken would be using as much as 75% of raw materials and content produced in India.
The LoCs also offered market access to Indian industry in regions like Africa, Central Asia and others that may not have been possible earlier, he said. Projects that could be undertaken under the LoCs included construction of infrastructure like power plants and roads, irrigation and drinking water facilities, he said.
Another opportunity that Indian industry could take advantage of was the regional and cross border connectivity projects that the Indian government was involved in, Chhabra said. These would act as “force multipliers flow of goods” for Indian manufacturers, he said.
India was planning two more Integrated check posts for trade with Nepal besides two rail links, Chhabra said. With Bangladesh too, there were plans for multiple rail links including one connecting the port of Chattogram, he said.
Besides this, Indian missions had identified 15 countries where India could scale up agriculture exports besides textiles, apparel, gems and jewellery, Chhabra said.
Africa presented a huge opportunity given its requirements for skilling people, he said, describing it as one of the “largest markets” and the “fastest growing region of the world.”