The first vice-chairman of NITI Aayog, Arvind Panagariya, and professor of economics at Columbia University emphasized the importance of correct signalling. He said that India must signal its proclivity for globalization. Because import is the crucial aspect of globalization, the country should not be reluctant to do so.
India Cannot Become Export Powerhouse Without Imports
Noting the garment industries leaving India and going to countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam, he said that the country has been giving mixed signals. It has accompanied it with several policy barriers. When that happens, it cannot expect industries to stay, as countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh are doing better than India in labour markets, land markets, and business friendliness.
China- Not Trustworthy in the Long Run
China, with about 33% of world GDP and India with 16% control about half of the world’s GDP. However, after the violent border face-off, India cannot trust China in the long run. Hence, the country will need gradual decoupling with China rather than a trade war. For this, Panagariya described a roadmap to liberalize the economy and indicate openness. He said that it needs to forge its relations with Japan, South Korea, Australia, and other ASEAN countries. The professor said that India could start with a free trade agreement with the European Union as it won’t have any issues with labour standards, intellectual property, or any export interest in agriculture. This will build the confidence of Canada and Australia in India and then subsequently of the US.
Autonomous Employment Zones
Panagariya said that self-governed employment zones in the country would be of enormous help. Allowing local administration to make changes in that particular zone will facilitate trade in several ways. Further, he suggested that the Prime Minister must give a clear indication to bring in foreign manufacturers in the country. Besides, he mentioned that the Prime Minister’s Office must take the initiative to consult manufacturers, academicians, and other experts. It will help to know what more needs to be done at the central level to export labour-intensive products. After that, states can do the same in their labour and land reforms.
The global goods export market today is worth $17 trillion. Of which, India makes for $3 trillion for all goods, services, agriculture, and everything it exports. But technological innovation and improvements are happening which we can lose out on if we are not a part of it.
In all, Panagariya indicated that liberalisation is a good thing, and the country needs to showcase it to the world for better opportunities.