Indian firms need to become globally competitive, not push protectionism: Amitabh Kant

Indian companies must stop promoting protectionism and complaining about imports via Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), and instead become globally competitive and seize the opportunity to penetrate global supply chains at a time when companies are looking to invest in alternative locations, Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog said.

“Problem is that Indian manufacturing companies spread protectionism…you are the people who start talking and promoting protectionism. Every time India has grown when exports have grown, and therefore it’s very important that India allows global competition to take place and Indian companies must have the guts and the courage to take on global competition, and therefore it’s very important that you people do not start promoting protectionism,” he said.

“…this fear of saying that everything is getting imported through FTA countries is not a correct approach. Important thing is that you first do manufacturing, bring size and scale, become globally competitive so that you can penetrate global markets.”

He added that FTAs are a give and take relationship and “its incumbent upon Indian companies to actually realize that you may benefit in one sector, but if you by not promoting FTA with Europe, our textile exporters are losing there.”

Instead, companies get five times the value in global markets than they get in domestic markets, providing a huge opportunity for exports.

The head of India’s policy-making body was delivering a keynote address at a virtual event organised by the Broadband India Forum (BIF) on ‘Atmanirbharta in Telecom Manufacturing’.

He advised manufacturing companies to establish the component ecosystem in India by leveraging the benefits of the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme.

“This is a right opportunity to actually penetrate global value chains because global value chains are in a state of flux, they are moving away from one country and looking for alternative opportunities, they’re looking for alternative locations. If we do not seize this opportunity now we’ll never be able to seize that again.”

He said India is the second largest telecommunications market in the world with over about 1.2 billion wireless connections, and is the fastest growing broadband market with over, almost 747 million broadband users.

“We are today importing more than Rs 50,000 crore (of telecom equipment). India cannot remain an importing nation. And therefore if you do not intervene and don’t start manufacturing here the telephony sector will end up having more imports than what we do in the petroleum sector in the next five years,” Kant said.

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