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Construction : Web Exclusive | February 2016 | Source : CW-India

Sharply rising economic interest in India among European and other countries.

The Consul Generals of six countries are optimistic about India’s growth prospects in the coming years.

Many European and other countries are keen to engage with India at an elevated level with conditions ripe for enhanced two-way flow of goods, services, investment and skilled human capital. This was a conclusion drawn at a high level panel discussion on ‘Slowdown of Global Economy – Implications and International Perceptions about India’, organised by the Indian Merchants’ Chamber.

Consul Generals of six countries – Canada, Germany, France, Sweden, Hungary and Israel – participated in the panel discussion and expressed optimism about India’s growth prospects in the coming years, especially given its recent history of robust growth notwithstanding global economic slowdown.

The session was moderated by Shailesh Haribhakti, Past President IMC, and Group Chairman, DH Consultants, who opened the panel discussion on a note saying: “Actually, there is no slowdown, there is only a reordering of the world. Assets have increased and the world is seeking to use these assets more efficiently. The voice of the disruptive is louder than that of the disruptor.” Talking about sustainability, he cited the example of the recent disaster in Paris.

So, how can we give appropriate intimation to what seems to be a slowdown? The Consul Generals of various countries shared their views on this:
Bernard Duffresne, Head, Department of Economics, French Consulate: It’s interesting to say there is no slowdown, only a relocation. Today, looking at growth rate, India is at the top. Many French companies are coming to India. Every year, France will invest $1 million in India, or more. We will further study difficulties that are happening.

Frederika Ornbrant, Consul General of Sweden: India is definitely not in a slowdown. The GDP growth is about a little less than 4 per cent, which is not bad. Trade between India and Sweden has increased; it has slowed down in 2013, but now it is increasing. Today, there is one Swedish company entering India every month. According to a survey, around 80 per cent of Swedish companies found India as a good business place. Swedish companies are here for a long-term and they see huge benefits.

Michael Siebert, Consul General of Germany: India has a unique chance to profit from the economic situation. Like Germany, India too suffers from low economy. India has drwan an upswing on the world’s market. After 2011-12, German companies have been coming to India. There are as many as 350 German companies already operating in Pune , and they are here for the long-run.

Jordan Reeves, Consul General of Canada: We may think that the economy is slowing down, but it’s not necessary it is being pessimistic. We would be happy to service the Indian market with various technologies being developed. Canada is optimistic about a bullish market like India and hopes the slow market will not last.

David Akov, Consul General of Israel: We are a small country. Agriculture, drip irrigation, etc, is what we see has immense potential in India. India has 17 per cent world population and 4 per cent world water; soon India will have to manufacture their own water. The third area we are working on is defence, as well as the issue of cyber security. We have created a solution for infrastructure and technologies for cyber security – these are areas we are trying to concentrate on. Because of the enormous need to growth in India, we believe we can make a difference to these areas – of food and water. We look specifically at India and the prospects are on the horizon.

Dr Nobert Reval Bere, Consul General of Hungary: India is the fastest growing economy is the world; its outgrowing China. There is great obsession about growth in India. We see much more interest in Indian companies. Also, we have seen many years of investment in various sectors of Indian companies in Hungary – Apollo Tyres opened its first market in Hungary. The Indian economy will reach a point, where reforms need to change, and that is necessary. A challenge in the Indian economy is that of providing jobs to all. The service sector, after agriculture, is important. Agriculture hardly shares 40 per cent to the Indian economy.

When asked about one area where these Consul Generals would like to see Indian companies grow in their respective countries and vice versa, they shared:

Sweden: Sweden wants IT, healthcare and life-science from India. And, Sweden can provide renewable energy, sustainability, etc, to India. Also, sustainability for smart cities.

Germany: The Internet of Things (IoT) is important for Germany and India to collaborate. Software people and engineering is what Germany wants from India. Germany can provide pharma, medical technologies, cars, etc. In fact, the Free Trade Agreement between Europe and India is set to bring advantages to both sides and create jobs, investments and opportunities.

Canada: Canada needs capital from corporates in India to scale-up. There is huge potential for technologies for different sectors in Canada.

Israel: IT companies from India can look for solutions for IT, cyber security, etc, from Israel – this is how India can invest in Israel. On Israel investing in India, India can learn or buy methods or the ecosystem of developing cyber companies. In terms of direct investment, the level of sophistication of manufacturing – automotive, etc – is world-class in India – cameras, ect, can be manufactured in India. This can be a great boom for both countries.

Hungary: The Pharma sector, automotive sector and manufacturing sector is where we see more opportunities for Indian companies in Hungary. Sustainable water management is what we have the expertise and we can bring to India. Smart cities, urbanisation, transportation, water management, energy efficiency, agriculture, etc, – are areas we can provide our expertise to India.

The session ended with Haribhakti asserting that when Smart Cities, Digital India, Make in India, etc, take off, we will see phenomenal growth momentum, further adding, “I think this will take off within a year.”

The sharply rising economic interest to engage with India among many European and other countries, hopes to bring a new kind of optimism to India’s future.

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