File image of US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (for representation) | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint |
File image of US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (for representation) | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint |
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New Delhi: US companies are looking at a “China plus one” strategy to reduce their “overdependence” on China, but for India to capitalise, it needs to have “predictability” in policymaking like Vietnam and Cambodia, according to Mukesh Aghi, president & CEO of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF).

The USISPF is a trade advocacy body established in 2017, which states that it is a non-profit with an aim to enable businesses and governments to collaborate. John Chambers, the chairman emeritus of Cisco Systems, is its founder, while the likes of Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte, and Shantanu Narayen, the head of Adobe, and many other industry leaders are on its board of directors.

In an interview to ThePrint, Aghi said the “fissure” between the world and China will continue to widen as countries manage the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“From the US perspective, there has been overdependence on China on the supply chain. So, companies are looking at how do you manage the risk factor, and they are seriously looking at ‘China plus one’ strategy,” Aghi told ThePrint from Washington over Skype.


Also read: India needs more ‘regulatory stability’ to compete with China, US trade body chief says


‘World upset with China’

He said a “titanic shift is taking place in the global order”, and as countries begin to adjust to such changes, “different centres of power will be emerging”, which will include China, but will also throw up opportunities for India “to establish itself as a regional power”.

“The world is upset with China on the pandemic… I am not saying that US companies will come completely out of China, but they will be looking at other alternative sites for manufacturing so their supplies are not completely dependent on China,” he said.

“And India could be one possible place if it starts making some things easier for these companies, compared to Vietnam or Cambodia or Thailand or other geographies.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had earlier said America is in talks with its “friends”, including India, “to share information and best practices as we begin to move the global economy forward”, even as the trade war between Washington and Beijing intensifies with the Covid pandemic.

‘No sense of evenness in policy’

According to Aghi, to attract foreign capital, it is imperative for India now to have policies that are stable and transparent, and create a level playing field for global companies.

“People invest for the long term, and they look for predictability in policymaking, transparency in policymaking, and a level playing field as they come into the market. And when you don’t have predictability, it sends a wrong signal to the boardrooms where these decisions are made,” he stressed.

Aghi said the reason why a lot of US companies are now moving to Vietnam is due to the predictability in policy, and even though it is much smaller in size compared to India, American firms find a basic “comfort level” in doing business there.

“There is a comfort level (in Vietnam) that at least policies will not switch overnight… This is critical when international firms come into your geography,” he said.

Aghi gave the example of the Indian government’s recent clampdown on American e-commerce firms to illustrate his point.

“On e-commerce, we keep on flip-flopping on policy and you have company like Walmart which spends $16 billion plus and invests in Flipkart, and we keep on changing the policy. In fact, two weeks ago, we allowed every e-commerce company to get into food and grocery business and put a stop on Flipkart getting into that… You cannot have a policymaking where it favours certain players. There is no sense of evenness,” he said.

“India still remains a viable market, it’s an open market, and I think what we are suggesting is we need to grab the current opportunity where the supply chains are shifting. And if we can get more and more of that to India, more innovation will come in, more investment will come in, and more and more jobs will be created.”


Also read: ‘Trade has been weaponised — India should lift tariffs on America’s Harley-Davidson bikes’


Data localisation, H-1B visa remain sticky issues

According to Aghi, India-US trade has grown by leaps and bounds, only now it will slow down due to the pandemic and its aftermath. However, he believes both sides need to iron out issues such as on intellectual property, data localisation and H-1B visas.

“Issues will come up, but the question is, is there maturity on both sides to be able to handle those issues? Both sides can pick up the phone and talk about these issues and find a win-win value proposition,” Aghi said.

Earlier this month, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) launched investigations against India and others for levying digital services tax that can adversely impact American companies. The US has also been also upset about India’s move to roll out a national e-commerce policy that restricts cross-border flow of data.

Recently, the US has also sought to make changes and put some restrictions on H-1B visas. Aghi said such a move may impact companies such as Google, Facebook and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which rely on these visas to run their operations.

“US businesses benefit substantially from mobility of Indian professionals coming to the United States. Today, we have a shortage of over a million software engineers in the US,” he said, adding that unemployment in certain sectors in the US makes H-1B a “political football”.

“There could be some changes,” he said, adding that discussion to prevent such an action is under way because it benefits both countries. “If (H-1B visas are) closed down, it will have impact on the trade between two countries.”


Also read: India and US must join hands during Covid-19 crisis, not increase nativist impulses


 

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2 Comments Share Your Views

2 COMMENTS

  1. INDIA NEEDS A VERY CONFIDENT LEADERS AT THE TOP….. SINCE INDIAS MINDSET IS ALL ABOUT “FRUGAL” LIVING THEY ARE UNABLE TO COME OUT OF IT.
    1: LOOK AT INDIAS DOMESTIC AUTO FIRMS……. THE ONLY “USP” IS TO SELL CARS THAT ARE CHEAP OR OFFERS VALUE FOR MONEY….. WHY?…… BECAUSE THE PAY OR SALARY OFFERED HAS NEVER BEEN SUFFICIENT ENOUGH FOR PEOPLE TO LIVE A REASONABLY “GOOD LIFE”.
    2: EMPLOYER WOULD SET UP SALARY IN A WAY THAT THERE IS SIMPLY NO ROOM FOR EMPLOYEE TO SAVE MUCH….. IF YOUR DISPOSAL INCOME IS NOT SUFFICE ENOUGH YOU HAVE NO ROOM WHATSOEVER TO BUY STUFF WHICH ARE EVEN UNNECESSARY.
    3: THERE NEEDS TO BE A PROPER FRAMEWORK WHERE GOVT SHOULD COMPLETELY CHANGE THE EXISTING TAX SLABS AT THE COST OF MORE JOB CREATION…… AT PRESENT ANY BUSINESS OWNER CAN GET BUSINESS LOAN AT 11-12% AND IF GROSS INCOME OF THE SAME BUSINESS EXCEEDS 15 LAKH HE IS ENTITLED TO PAY 30% TAX ON GROSS INCOME
    4: 12+30% = 42% IS WHAT GOVT WANTS A BUSINESS OWNER TO KEEP PAYING TO BANKS AND GOVT…….INSTEAD OF PUTTING EVERYONE BACK TO WORK…..GOVT IS SIMPLY FOCUSED ON IMPOSING MORE TAXES TO 30-40% OF INDIAS TOTAL POPULATION
    5: ANOTHER THING, OTHER THEN MAHARASHTRA….IT SEEMS THERE ARE NO OTHER STATES WHERE ANY ECONOMIC ACTIVITY IS HAPPENING….. YOU WOULD NEVER HEAR EVENIN THE NEWS CHANNEL….. EG: STUDENTS FROM ORISSA FOUND SOMETHING OR IIT,IIM STUDENTS HAVE DISCOVERED, LAUNCH, COMMERCIALISED SOMETHING VALUABLE.
    6: YOU WOULDNT EVEN HEAR ….. IF ADANI IS GIVEN CONTRACTS TO BUILT AIRPORTS…..28 STATES TIMES 5 AIRPORTS = 140 AIRPORTS…..WHAT WHEN AND HOW?….NO WORK IS STARTED YET….NEITHER ANYONE ACKNOWLEDGES WE ARE WEAK IN PARTICULAR AREA FOR WHICH WE NEED AN EXPERTISE FROM ABROAD…….EGOISTIC AND IGNORANT COUNTRY AND ITS PEOPLE
    7: WHAT ARE INDIAS IIT AND IIM STUDENTS DOING? IT ENGINEERS, SOFTWARE ENGINEERS? ELECTRONIC ENGINEER STUDENTS DO UPON GRADUATION? NOONE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS TO STUDENTS UPON GRADUATION
    8: LETS SAY THEY DONT HAVE TALENT……ACKNOWLEDGE THAT OUR ENGINEERS ARE OF MEDIOCRE QUALITY SO WE SHOULD CHANGE THE CURRICULUM GOING FORWARD….. SO THAT FROM NEXT BATCH ONWARDS IF ANY ENGINEER GRADUATES COMES OUT WE WILL HIRE HIM TO DEVELOP CCTV CAMERAS, TABLETS,MOBILE PHONES, LAPTOPS,TUBELIGHTS,BULBS…..AND IF THEY FAIL GOVT MUST SUSPEND COLLEGE LICENSE FOR ITS RECORD OF POOR QUALITY EDUCATION.
    9: ALL WHAT MODI TALKS IS ABOUT COVID 19, DAY AND NIGHT…..ALL 2 4 HOURS……
    10: WHY CANT TCS,WIPRO,INFOSYS, HCL HAVE SO FAR FAILED TO OPEN 100 TRAINING CENTRES IN EACH OF THE 28 STATES? MODI DOESNT KNOW
    11: WHY CANT RELIANCE, TATA, MARUTI,MAHINDRA AND OTHERS HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO OPEN ITS FRANCHISES OR CHAINS IN ALL OF THE 28 STATES WITH 100 BRANCH EACH?
    12: WHY DOES INDIA DONT HAVE ITS UNIVERSITY THAT TEACHES NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGIES? BIOTECH? BE IT REACTORS OR ARMS….
    13: I FEEL WE ALL INDIANS ARE READY TO SHELVE OUT ONE RUPEE EACH AND GIVE IT TO MODI IF HE GETS RETIRED TOMORROW…..HE CAN COLLECT 130CR AS HIS RESIGNATION FEES FROM THE PEOPLE OF INDIA!
    14: INDIA NEED A PM LIKE RAGHURAM RAJAN…. SOMEONE WHO HOLDS A FOREIGN DEGREE AND TALKS OPENLY ABOUT THE REAL PROBLEMS THAT LIES AT PRESENT…… BEING QUIET HAS BECOME A THING OF PAST…… YOU GOT TO OPEN UP AND BE HONEST ABOUT WHAT PROBLEMS ARE WE FACING TODAY….. IF WE CANT BUILT HIGHWAYS….. MODI SHOULD COME ON TV AND TELL US THAT BECAUSE INDIANS DONT HAVE SKILLS TO DEVELOP INFRASTRUCTURE WE MIGHT NEED AN EXPERTISE FROM FOREIGN ENTITIES…..ASK FOR THE HELP AND PAY IT TO GET THINGS DONE FOR OUR NATION!
    15: LOOK AT OUR TRAINS AND PLATFORMS…..ITS TIME TO RE-DO OR UPGRADE OUR TRAINS
    16: MODI BEING A PM – A POST HIGHER THEN A MANAGER ……CANT EVEN GET THINGS DONE FROM PEOPLE
    17: MODI LACKS CONFIDENCE OR MAY BE HE IS NOT FEELING WELL HEALTHWISE!

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