Government charts plan to boost FDI flows

NEW DELHI: The government has begun consultations with stakeholders on ways to step up foreign investment into the country, with commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal launching discussions with investment bankers, consulting agencies and law firms.
While the ministry was already engaged in a dialogue with potential investors, the efforts had slowed down due to the coronavirus pandemic and have gained momentum over the last few days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s repeated calls to focus on domestic production. Besides, companies are also looking to diversify their production bases beyond China, which had become the mainstay for many global corporations.
During his meeting with consulting and law firms, Goyal is learnt to have talked about getting investors to invest in the interior areas and moving beyond big towns and cities, sources told TOI.

A source said the focus will be manifold. For instance, one approach will be to focus on areas where India has competitive strengths, such as textiles and auto parts, and scale them through more investments, especially from international companies, so that they can develop local facilities that meet international standards.
The other approach is to look at products, where large imports are taking place, and try to substitute them through domestic production, something that the government has been trying to do but has seen little gains so far. This will mean greater attention to sectors such as electronics and defence, which are large items on India’s import bill.
A list of so-called champion sectors has been prepared, which can be among the focus areas.
A third strategy is to get Indian MSMEs to scale up and an attempt is being made to identify some of the areas, where it is possible to do so. But policy constraints such as investment caps are seen to be hobbling the plan.
A source engaged with the deliberations, however, said these are initial consultations as companies are currently focused on battling the coronavirus pandemic, with many of them trying to resurrect their existing operations and also looking for liquidity.
One of the concerns for the government is the inability of local industry to build Brand India, which is recognised worldwide. This is seen to be crucial to attract international investors.

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