"Big Value That Democracy Brings To The Table": Piyush Goyal On China, Supply Chains

The Union Minister for commerce and industry also spoke about the increasing adoption of electric vehicles in India and the speculation around a tax holiday for Tesla.

Mr Goyal said India is poised to see three or four decades of high growth rates.

San Francisco:

India becoming the third-largest economy in the world in the next three to four years is a no-brainer and democracy brings a huge amount of value to the table, Union Minister Piyush Goyal has said in a subtle hint at China while emphasising India's growing importance in global supply chains.

In an exclusive interview with NDTV on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in San Francisco on Friday, the minister for commerce and industry also spoke about the increasing adoption of electric vehicles in India, speculation around a tax holiday for Tesla and how he sees the country leading the world in terms of growth in the category in the next 10 years.

In a first, India has been invited to attend the summit even though it is not a part of APEC, and Mr Goyal also met US President Joe Biden earlier in the day.

Asked about his earlier statement that India's relationship with the US has nothing to do with what is called the 'China + 1' strategy, the minister said, "I am very convinced that India stands on its own feet. India is a compelling case for investment, it is a compelling partner based on trust... The respect that India is getting from the US, from its leaders and from other countries reflects the growing importance of India as a country. I see huge adulation among leaders when they talk of Prime Minister Narendra Modi."

Resilient Supply Chains

On whether the government was watching the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mr Biden closely, Mr Goyal said India wishes both countries well.

"We have no reason to watch that meeting, as you say. But, more importantly, across the world, there is a recognition that there should be more resilient supply chains. Businesses are concerned about their experiences of the recent past. They are also very concerned about transparency and opaque business practices. There is a big value that democracy brings to the table," Mr Goyal said.

"In all those respects, and when you have an overlay of the cost of doing business, I think India will be an important partner in supply chains... more for the trust that they have in our abilities. I had a conversation with a large semiconductor company with operations in India and I was told that they are almost like an Indian company now. They have 15,000 highly qualified highly paid engineers working in India, doing cutting-edge technology work. They have aggressive plans to grow the business in India," he added.

Tesla, Electric Vehicles

To a question on Tesla and a report stating that the Indian government was considering a tax holiday or tax cuts on fully assembled electric vehicles for the first five years, the minister did not answer directly and, instead, emphasised the country's increasing adoption of such vehicles and its future potential.

Mr Goyal said his visit to the Tesla factory was primarily about meeting the team, many of whom are Indians, and increasing the Indian component in their supply chains.

"I am immensely pleased about their plans to double their imports from India and, going forward, they are looking at very aggressive plans along with reputed auto component manufacturers in India. There are many other discussions which are always there on the table but, for the present, the meeting was focused on what we can do to be an important element in their supply chain," he said.

Pressed about Tesla CEO Elon Musk's tax holiday proposal in 2021, the minister said the government would like to see a lot more happening in the electric vehicle ecosystem in India.

"We are adopting EVs very fast. Nearly 40% of two-wheelers being sold are electric now. For commercial vehicles like buses and cabs, it's a no-brainer to use EVs as they are much more economical and eco-friendly... The EV ecosystem in India is set to grow rapidly, probably the fastest ramp-up you'll see in the next 10 years of electric vehicles will happen in India," he asserted.

Mr Goyal said this will ensure that manufacturers across the world would want to come to India and pointed out that the country has good domestic manufacturing capacity as well.

On tax cuts, he said the government will hold discussions with all players, domestic and international, and come up with a cogent policy that will support the ecosystem.

"My sense is electric vehicles are here to stay. They are good for the environment and help us fight climate change and reduce imports of crude oil... Imagine if we cut down the $100 billion of oil imports into the country. We would have a trade surplus every year and India would be a growth story unparalleled in history," he said.

Economic Growth

The minister said PM Modi has "steered the economy beautifully" despite challenges like the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas wars.

Exuding confidence about the India growth story, he added. "India is poised for probably three or four decades of high growth rates. In terms of India becoming the third-largest economy, I don't think it will be more than three or four years down the road. PM Modi guarantees it will happen in his third term. I think it's a no-brainer. It's 100% there. We will make it happen."