Global economic situation an opportunity for India: Jaitley

New Delhi, Sep 8 (IANS) Describing India as transiently impacted by recent events in China, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said the global situation instead presented an opportunity for the country as it is a net importer of commodities and oil is in free fall.

“India is one of the lesser impacted economies (by China devaluation, slowdown), partly because our own fundamentals are reasonably strong,” Jaitley said while briefing reporters on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting here with union ministers, corporate heads and economists to discuss the global markets’ turmoil sparked off by the Chinese economic slowdown and attendant opportunities for India.

“The main thrust of the meeting was that since India is relatively touched little except for a transient impact on the markets, it should therefore strengthen its domestic economy so that the larger benefits of the global economy may come India’s way,” he said.

“Being a net importer of commodities globally, the low oil prices are an opportunity for us,” the finance minister added.

Global crude oil in free fall touched the $40-a-barrel mark in trading late in August, having already dropped under $50 for the second time this year from the level of over $100 last year.

The meeting, that lasted over three hours, discussed the global situation that impacted India economically like a possible hike in the US Federal Reserve rate, the world powers’ nuclear deal with Iran contributing partly to cheaper oil and the way the Chinese slowdown opens up opportunities.

A slowdown in the Chinese markets, which led to global markets’ crash, coupled with rupee volatility and the risk of a US rate hike, knocked out the Indian equity markets in August.

Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and Aayog member Bibek Debroy also attended the meeting on ‘Recent Global Events: Opportunities for India’.

Apart from heads of industry chambers, top industrialists such as Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani, Aditya Birla Group head Kumar Mangalam Birla, Adani group chairman Gautam Adani, Tata group chief Cyrus Mistry, Wipro chief Azim Premji, Sun Pharma CMD Dilip Sanghvi, ITC’s Y.C. Deveshwar and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited chairman Ravi Parthasarathy were among those who attended.

“The general consensus was that growth of emerging economies is all slowing down, except that we (India) are growing at seven percent. So how can we take advantage of this opportunity (of slowdown elsewhere),” Confederation of Indian Industry president Sumit Mazumdar told reporters after the meeting.

“The prime minister said this is an opportunity for us to take advantage of and invest. Cost of capital is too high but I don’t know how many people can go ahead to take risk and invest… many of us raised the issue of interest rate,” said Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) president Jyotsna Suri.

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