Ambassador’s speech at the Seminar on ‘Business Opportunities in India’s 12th Five Year Plan and Budget 2012-13’
May 4, 2012
It is a great pleasure to welcome you all this evening to this interactive session on India-China economic cooperation. Despite a difficult global economic scenario, we actually meet in a positive atmosphere. Let me explain why, highlighting four important reasons:
(i) First, trade between India and China grew from 43 billion dollars in 2009 to 61.7 billion dollars in 2010 and 73.9 billion dollars in 2011. This impressive development actually took place against a backdrop of slowing demand. So, imagine the implications for our relationship as we move towards a recovery.
(ii) Second, we are now moving beyond trade into greater mutual investments. A number of significant projects have come up in both countries – perhaps more in India by Chinese companies – even in the last three years. The challenge here is to make entry conditions more encouraging and offer facilitation where required.
(iii) Three, our leaderships are today much more strongly committed to expanding economic cooperation. I was present at the BRICS summit in March this year in New Delhi when our Prime Minister met President Hu Jintao. A large part of the meeting was devoted to this issue and our Prime Minister emphasized that we welcomed more Chinese investments and economic activity.
(iv) Fourth, our administrative processes are today more geared to supporting this new phase of economic interaction. My first meeting with CCCME was dominated by complaints about our visa procedures. Since then, we have created Project and Employment visa categories to meet your demands. Our Embassy regularly issues six months multiple entry visas to business visitors even if their requirement is less. While there is always room for improvement the situation today is more predictable and the gradually rising numbers of visa figures across all categories speak for themselves.
2. The global crisis of 2008-09 and its aftershocks, have created conditions whereby India's 12th Five Year Plan will be launched in a less benign and a more uncertain macroeconomic environment. However, there are several potential drivers of growth that suggest that it would be possible to accelerate India's GDP growth in the 12th Plan beyond the 8% average GDP growth that we achieved in the 11th Plan. The 12th Five year plan aims at “faster, sustainable and more inclusive growth”. The plan places emphasis on creating conditions for rapid revival of high growth in the private sector and addressing infrastructure bottlenecks
3. To understand the opportunities that are available, particularly in India’s infrastructure sector, it is important that your members study and analyze the key economic policy documents that have been released recently by the Indian Government. I would draw three of them to your particular attention: the annual budget speech of the Finance Minister, the draft Approach Paper to the 12th Five Year Plan and the report on the ‘Review of the Economy’ released by the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council. They provide you an appreciation of the short and medium term plans of the Government, an understanding of policy commitments and initiatives and a sense of our growth performance and prospects. Counsellor Naidu, in his presentation, will highlight elements that are relevant for Chinese companies.
4. Allow me to conclude by thanking you all for joining us at this conference. I hope that our frequent interactions are helpful in expanding trade and investment between India and China towards our mutual benefit.