Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has used his keynote speech at the World Economic Forum's (WEF) annual meeting to pitch his country as “open for business”, after mounting a staunch defence of globalisation.
Speaking at the 48th World Economic Summit in Davos yesterday, Modi said his government had “rolled out the red carpet and was removing red tape”, citing the single tax regime, Goods and Services Tax and the removal of more than 1,400 archaic laws that stifled free enterprise.
“Investing in India, travelling to India, manufacturing in India and exporting your products and services to all over the world has become much more easier compared to earlier times,” he said.
“If you want wellness and wealth, come to India. If you want health and wholeness of life, come to India. If you want prosperity and peace, come to India. You are always welcome.”
He added that “reform, perform, transform” were the key areas of focus for his government.
On easing foreign investment rules, Modi said, “more than 90% of FDI [foreign direct investment] is allowed through the automatic approval route”.
Ahead of his address, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said India is set to regain the title of the fastest growing economy in the world.
In its latest World Economic Outlook update, the IMF projects India to grow at 7.4% in 2018, while the global growth forecast stands at 3.9%.
Modi also warned that the recent wave of trade protectionism, in which governments raise barriers to free trade between nations, was “worrisome”.
“Forces of protectionism are raising their heads against globalisation; their intention is not only to avoid globalisation themselves but also to reverse its natural flow,” he said.
“The result of all this is that we get to witness new types of tariff and non-tariff barriers. Bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and negotiations have come to a standstill. Most nations have seen a decrease in cross-border financial investment; growth in the global supply chain has also stopped.
“The solution to this worrying situation against globalisation is not isolation. Its solution is in understanding and accepting change and in formulating agile and flexible policies in line with the changing times.”
The forum’s theme in 2018 is “Creating a shared future in a fractured world”, with participants ranging from political and business leaders to celebrities.
Responding to the WEF’s theme Modi said the world must come together to solve the deep issues of the world, and India could show the way.
“In the world that is full of fault-lines and rifts we need to build a shared future with the changes taking place and the new forces arising, the balance between economic capabilities and political power is changing at great speed,” he said.
He said the last time an Indian prime minister had been to Davos was in 1997 when India’s GDP was little more than $400bn and now, it was almost six times as much.
He added that India would have a $5tn economy by 2025.
Speaking about technology, he said changes in society and particularly technological change presented the world with both opportunities and risk.
“This technology-driven transformation is deeply influencing the way we live, the way we work, behave and talk to each other and influencing international politics and economics,” he said.
He warned that although big data presented the world with the biggest opportunities, its ability to “bend, break and link” society was also a great challenge.