(File image)
(File image)

Inviting Australian businesses to “invest and make in India”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said sectors like railways, defence and manufacturing now offer huge scope for foreign investments with liberalised FDI norms.

“India could manage to become a very low-cost service provider but failed to transform into a low-cost manufacturing”, Jaitley said here, adding there is an opportunity now for the same.

Launching ‘Make in India’ conference here on the second day of his four-day visit to Australia, the Minister invited Australian businesses to be a part of India’s growth story.

Separately during a bilateral meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Jaitley said there is a lot of scope for foreign investment in India in various sectors which have now been opened for FDI including railways, defence and manufacturing.

He also listed out various reform measures undertaken by the Modi government in the last 22 months and asked Australian businesses to “invest and make in India”.

He also said India faces three major challenges — it needs to boost exports in view of shrinking global trade, increase private investment and is hoping for a better monsoon this year after insufficient rains for two consecutive years.

Jaitley said India has shown a great resilience despite global economic downturn.

“For two consecutive years, we are the fastest growing economy in the world. When we measure ourselves by our own standards, we believe that 7.5 per cent does not reflect our true potential,” Jaitley said.

India has to invest in its infrastructure in a bid to prepare a base for an economy of this huge size, he said.

“Manufacturing must occupy a space,” he said, adding that global investors must look at India.

Speaking on the occasion, Bishopsaid Australia can play a major role in providing various services to India especially in field of innovations, R&D and designing, vocational training and skill development, among others.

Jaitley thanked the Australian Foreign Minister for concluding the administrative arrangements on civil nuclear cooperation to facilitate the flow of uranium.

He will also meet Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tomorrow.

Recalling the recent high-level visits by leaders of the two countries, Jaitley and Bishop expressed satisfaction over ongoing cooperation in several areas of bilateral interests.

The two leaders discussed various bilateral and global developments and stressed upon the importance of people-to-people contacts and welcomed the forthcoming ‘Festival of India’ in Australia and growing tourism and cultural exchanges.

Later, Bishop told PTI that the meeting was “productive” and positive, where several bilateral issues were discussed.

At the Make in India conference, Jaitley said that there was a need to expand the manufacturing share to 25 per cent of GDP with a significant population moving out of agri sector.

Jaitley said that now is the time when ‘Make in India’ campaign can translate into actual activities.

The conference was launched in the presence of Australia’s Special Envoy for trade Andrew Robb, Indian High Commissioner Navdeep Suri, CII Director-General Chandrajit Banerjee, CII President Sumit Mazumder and new Parliament Secretary for Major Events and Tourism Jonathan O’Dea.

Jaitley said India has got a second chance to transform itself into manufacturing hub with ‘Make in India’ campaign.

The Indian economy is doing well despite global downturns and if the global tailwinds become more supportive, India could perform even better, he said.

“Global investors must seriously look at in terms of investing in India,” Jaitley said, adding that the country has also shown a great appetite for economic reforms.

“The constituency that supports economic reforms in India today are far more bigger than the one which obstructs it. India becoming an aspirational society has significantly increased,” he said.

Jaitley also cited the size of the market that India offered.

“Any market that occupies 1/6 of the global population, 35-40 per cent of them in middle class. Its purchasing power increasing by the day. Where else will you get a market of this size,” he said, adding that Indian federalism has evolved from being cooperative to competitive.

The minister further assured the investors that tax system in India was also being gradually brought to global standards.

Speaking on the occasion, Australia’s former Trade Minister Andrew Robb said his country has a lot to offer to India in terms of expertise.

“As a country, we are 80 per cent services. We can offer environment, power, design, energy, transport and other services,” Robb said.

Indian High Commissioner Navdeep Suri said the two sides had a strong strategic relationship.