Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday invited US defence companies to invest in India, asserting that there is a lot of scope for the American and Indian defence industries in co-production and co-development.
Speaking during the inaugural address at the 18th India-US Economic Summit on the theme ‘Bouncing Back – Resilient Recovery Path Post Covid-19’, Singh stated that the initiatives taken by the government have transformed India into a strong and reliable investment destination. The summit was organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce through video conferencing.
He said India is now led by a stable and secure government which focuses on economic growth through a series of reforms. He added that robust domestic demand and availability of a talented young work force and innovation make India a major investment destination.
Singh called upon the industry leaders to focus on transfer of technology through joint ventures to realise the country’s true potential in the defence sector. The foreign OEMs can set up manufacturing facilities individually or partner with Indian companies through a joint venture or technology agreement to capitalise on the ‘Make in India’ initiative, he added.
Singh exhorted them to begin the process of Research and Development with the young minds of the country which will increase the linkages among the industries and create an ecosystem through equal contribution from academia and research. He emphasised that there is a lot of scope for the American and Indian defence industries in co-production and co-development, adding that Indian industry can supply components to American industries.
Expressing confidence that American firms will find India a major investment destination for defence manufacturing, he assured the Industry that the government is open to new ideas to create a business-friendly environment in India and is committed to push all types of entrepreneurship and manufacturing in the defence sector.
“I am sure that the economic and strategic partnership between India & US will act as a springboard and the forum will act as a bridge to achieve this,” he added.
Shedding light on the growing ties between India and the US, Singh said the Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, 2+2 Dialogue, Quad Security Dialogue and agreements like Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) have taken the bilateral relations to greater heights.
He, however, emphasised that the relations are yet to realise their full potential, saying that several progressive policies have been put in place in the last two years that have given the defence sector an unexpected growth trajectory.The measures include setting up of Defence Industrial Corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; increasing the FDI limit to 74 per cent through automatic route and 100 per cent through government route under certain circumstances; inclusion of ‘Buy and Make’ category in Defence Acquisition Procedure-2020 which provides a vendor with an economical workforce and India gets technology & trained manpower; draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy (DPEPP-2020) with provisions to incentivise foreign investment and notification of two positive indigenisation lists to increase business collaboration.
Singh highlighted that despite the COVID-19 situation, the country’s economy is back on track due to the steps taken by the government. “India’s GDP has shown a ‘V’ shaped growth curve in the last two years. Where the growth witnessed a contraction of 24 per cent last year, a jump of 20 per cent has been seen in the first quarter of this year. It is a reflection of the country’s sound economic fundamentals,” he said.
Singh added, “We are expecting double digit growth in FY-22 despite the challenge of COVID-19. But, the challenge will be to maintain a healthy growth rate of 7-8 per cent in the years after FY-22. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, we are preparing for dynamic growth much beyond FY-22.”
He added that major structural and procedural reforms in the last seven years have prepared India to take a quantum jump in terms of growth. Formulation of progressive and investor friendly tax policies, increased focus on ease of doing business, agriculture and labour reforms are some of the initiatives that have laid the foundation of a ‘New India’.
He also lauded the Indian industry for fulfilling the requirement of masks, PPE kits, ventilators and working with the government to deal with the pandemic. He added that Industry is playing a significant role in the world’s largest vaccination drive being undertaken in India.