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Australian firms can make India low-cost manufacturing hub

Mahindra Australia draws in on diversification for ‘Make in India’

by Ramakrishna VenuGopal

Sydney, March 30: Noting that India is currently rated as the most attractive investment destination by many global agencies, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday invited Australian businesses to invest in India to help the country become a low-cost manufacturing destination.

“India could manage to become a very low-cost service provider but failed to transform into a low-cost manufacturing,” Jaitley said, launching a ‘Make in India’ conference here on the second day of his four-day Australia visit.

Describing the various recent reforms for attracting foreign investment, Jaitley
said sectors like railways, defence and manufacturing now offer huge scope for investments with liberalised foreign direct investment (FDI) norms.

At a bilateral meeting earlier in the day with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Jaitley listed various reforms by the National Democratic Alliance government.

He also said India faces three major challenges – to boost exports in a situation of shrinking global trade, increase private investment and the impact of two consecutive years of poor monsoons.

“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 percent does not reflect our true potential,” India’s finance minister said.

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

“Manufacturing must occupy a space,” he said.

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

Jaitley thanked the Australian foreign minister for finalising the administrative arrangements on civil nuclear cooperation to facilitate uranium supplies to India.

Speaking to mediapersons here later, Jaitley dismissed reports that he would push for funds for the Adani Group’s $16.5 billion coal mine project during his meetings with Australian leaders, saying this was not on his agenda.

“This is a subject which is internal to Australia and this is not the purpose of my visit,” he said.

Last month, Australia’s Queensland state Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) issued a final environmental authority (EA) for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project located near the ecologically sensitive Great Barrier Reef, but with about 140 conditions.

This visit Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, follows MAKE IN INDIA – a visionary project of Indian PM Modi, which has now emerged as a global reality. “Make in India Week” was held in Mumbai last month.

The weeklong multi-sectoral industrial was attended by 2500 international and 8000 domestic, foreign government delegations from 68 countries and business teams from 72 countries.

On the heels of the ‘Make in India’ campaign, Mahindra’s Aerospace CEO SP Shukla, who was visiting Australia, told Australia to ‘Make it in India’.  

Mahindra Group makes jeeps, trucks and military helicopters in India and around the world. Mr. Shukla speaking at the Australia India Business Council and the Commonwealth Bank event, he said “Lets down it together and grow” – adding that India is now driven “by innovation and infrastructure”.

He spoke about how global conglomerates like Mahindra Group were better equipped to diversify and provide better returns, than single product global corporations.

“Like a restaurant with a number of top chefs can offer you Chinese, Indian or European food, in a multi-cuisine restaurant”.

Mahindra Group in India has over 125,000 showrooms, 45 plants, including a manufacturing plant near Melbourne in Australia.

(Ramakrishna VenuGopal is a senior writer at Bharat Times, Melbourne)

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