Global Economy

Current 'challenging time' in India can prove to be 'an opportunity': US business advocacy group

WASHINGTON: The ongoing 21-day lockdown in India to combat the coronavirus outbreak can be “an opportunity” for the country as the move shows the government’s transparency in policymaking, a factor which will attract more foreign investments, according to the head of an India-centric US business advocacy group.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a countrywide lockdown for three weeks, restricting a population of over 1.3 billion indoors, in an effort to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which has infected over 870 people, including 19 deaths, in India.

It was the right thing to do, US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) president Mukesh Aghi told PTI.

“Everywhere I’m hearing here (in the US) that it was the right thing to do and it shows (the PM’s) the sign of leadership. Hopefully in three-week time, things will get under more control in India,” he said.

“However, this challenging time can be changed into an opportunity for India,” Aghi said.

India is a “very lucrative market”, he said, “Yes, you have this disruption. This is all over the world and India is no exception. In fact, I see it’s an opportunity in this crisis for India.”

He said with prime minister’s announcing of the lockdown, the message has gone to the world that India, unlike China, can be “open and transparent” in its policymaking.

“So basically, companies are going to move where they feel there’s more openness, more transparency,” Aghi said.

At the same time, he said, since India’s economy is integrated into the global economy, the government must ensure that the disruption in the global supply chain does not happen during the lockdown.

“The disruption in essential services, which India provides to the global markets, should not get impacted,” he said.

The USISPF is working with US companies having footprints in India and the Indian government for them to get exemptions for some of the critical manufacturing supply chains and emergency service providers, so that India remains a future investment market, Aghi said.

He underlined that the economic fallout of the three-week lockdown can be managed.

“If it’s only three weeks, impact can be managed because once you lift the lockdown, there’ll be an uptick in consumption which will pent up demand,” Aghi said. Besides, the government’s announcement of infusing Rs 15,000 into the economy will also help, he said.


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