#June 2017, #Hot Spot

One of the European Union’s (EU) leading economies sets out what makes it the right gateway to Europe for Indian companies.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was only in Berlin for 24 hours on May 30, but the wake of his visit has left little doubt as to how important India is to Germany and the EU. German Chancellor Angela Merkel used a joint appearance in front of a business audience to emphasise that agreeing an EU-India free trade agreement (FTA) would be a priority.

#June 2017, #Hot Spot

The Indian Prime Minister was on a packed tour of Germany, Spain, Russia and France in May/June and has returned with a slew of agreements and promising pacts for the future.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Berlin at the start of his European tour, the term used to describe the visit was the opening of a “new chapter” in the bilateral relations between India and Germany.

The PM set off for his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at her country retreat of Schloss Meseberg soon after landing. Both leaders discussed issues of mutual interest in an informal setting over dinner at the 18th century palace, 50 miles north-west of Berlin.

#Putting it in context, #April 2017

It may be time to anoint New Delhi as a hub for a reimagined Commonwealth, writes India Inc. CEO Manoj Ladwa.

This week the Commonwealth Secretariat has launched a report which claims that if the UK and India sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), this could boost bilateral trade by a staggering 26 per cent. I am somewhat sceptical about the speed at which an FTA could be agreed and the figures. But nonetheless any moves in this direction is positive. It is also here that the larger canvas of the Commonwealth could provide a fillip to a much more meaningful UK-India relationship of the future. There are, however, some practical and emotional hurdles to overcome before we get there.

For instance, India has been Independent for 70 years but even now some quarters in the country are still very prickly when it comes to discussions on the colonial era and India’s relations with the UK. Fortunately, such mindsets are fast becoming a thing of the past as the post-Cold War, post-9/11, post-Brexit world gets set for the next big challenges.

As one of the former colonies that has, especially with the rise of Modi – India’s first Prime Minister to be born after India’s independence – made a decisive break with the past, India has in my view everything to gain and very little, if anything, to lose from this approach. The Commonwealth could be one such institution that can become a vehicle to drive large parts of the world into the 21st century.

Though there is an urgent need to reimagine it, not as Empire 2.0 as some misguided apologists for the past have done in Britain but as a modern, forward-looking trade bloc that can help its members navigate through the choppy and highly complex waters of the global economy.

I have consistently argued that the UK has to do much of the heavy lifting following Brexit. This may be a good time to put its considerable global heft and prestige behind the move to reform and reinvigorate the Commonwealth and reimagine it as a global trading platform fit for the 21st century and beyond. It is for Her Majesty’s government to convince India, by far the largest Commonwealth member, to become its partner in the process. It is the world’s fastest growing major economy and clearly the nation to watch out for in this century. But over the years, India has viewed the Commonwealth with less than full enthusiasm.

Today, though, the world is a different place. In the era of Donald Trump and with winds of isolationism gathering pace in some Western democracies, India’s global aspirations and its far-sighted and global minded leader Narendra Modi stand out as a bellwether in the global community.

Given his penchant for getting things done and for carrying other countries along – as he did with the International Solar Alliance – the place to start would be New Delhi.

To re-imagine the Commonwealth, the following steps need to be taken:

  • Recognition of a rebalancing and redistribution of power within the Commonwealth – not just India, but in key countries like Nigeria, Australia, Canada, Singapore and the East African economies
  • Structural reform with some stronger weightage placed on India from an administrative perspective
  • Anoint New Delhi as the hub or head office of the Commonwealth trading bloc
  • Re-imagining the shared values and shared aspirations on the lines of Modi’s inclusive Sabka Ka Saath, Sabka Vikas credo as large swathes of the Commonwealth remain impoverished
  • The fight against poverty must take centre-stage, not through lecturing but real programmes, such as the export of the Jan Dhan Yojana, India’s highly successful financial inclusion scheme.

Frankly, however, the often referred to issue in the corridors of Lutyens Delhi remains the future role of British monarchy. Having the Queen as the non-political ceremonial head of the Commonwealth has historically served it well, no doubt. And, in my view it is probably not as big an issue as some make it out to be, but the relationship between Prince Charles and Modi will play an important role in the emergence of the Commonwealth in the coming decades. The fact that the two men, who will find they have a lot in common, have not yet met, is one thing that needs to be rectified, and rectified quick.

The advantages are obvious and massive – a readymade, English speaking bloc straddling every continent of the world, with common or similar legal and other systems, a combined GDP of $10.4 trillion or 14 per cent of global GDP and a population of 2.4 billion or a third of the world.

The opportunity beckons. Does Mrs May’s government have the nimbleness to pick up the threads and weave it into a fabric?

That’s the 10-billion-dollar question.


Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa

#February 2017, #UK/EUROPE

A new report released the UK’s Free Enterprise Group makes the case for Britain to prioritise free trade agreements (FTAs) with key Commonwealth nations like India following Brexit. ‘India Global Business’ explores the rationale behind this strategy.

‘Reconnecting with the Commonwealth: The UK’s free trade opportunities’, released by the British MPs led Free Enterprise Group, suggests a five-step plan for the UK government as it gets ready to leave the European Union (EU).

#2016, #Yearend 2016, #South Asia

India’s proactive Act East policy hinges heavily on the ASEAN free trade group and it is the many emerging economies in this collective that offer growth opportunities for Indian companies.

The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises of the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. India’s focus on a strengthened and multi-faceted relationship with ASEAN was reinvigorated at the 12th ASEAN India Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, in November 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally flagged up the Act East Policy.

#2016, #Yearend 2016, #India-EU

The chief executive of Brussels-based trade group Eurochambres analyses whether the traditional trade agreement format is viable any more when it comes to India’s relationship with the European Union (EU).

India has become the world’s fastest-growing large economy. It is the world’s seventh-largest economy in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), overtaking the G7 members Canada and Italy as well as Brazil. In 2015 India’s economy expanded despite agriculture facing a second consecutive drought year, with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimating in July 2016 that the Indian economy was on track to meet its projected growth target of 7.4 per cent in 2016-17, supported by brisk consumer spending and an uptick in the rural economy.

#2016, #Yearend 2016, #World View

India and Japan signed off a strategic civil nuclear agreement in November. Will it clear the way for a wider and deeper role for Japanese business in India?

Narendra Modi is famously fixated with productive use of time. The man hours he has spent on Japan during a career dating back more than a decade to his days as chief minister in Gujarat, are eye-popping. He has always been drawn to Japan’s world-beating manufacturing, engineering processes and a perception of capital as a long-term partner as the preferred route to India’s own development.

#US Election, #2016, #October 2016, #Special Edition - November 2016, #US Elections

With just weeks to go, the search for the 45th President of the United States is getting increasingly tighter and fractious. ‘India Global Business’ evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the two main candidates – Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton – to see what India has in store under a new US President.

Traditionally, the 50 states vote either for the Republican or Democrat candidate largely on a set pattern based on the two parties’ take on a host of issues that confront the world’s most powerful country. This time around, the challenge posed by multi-billionaire businessman Donald Trump – the outsider – who first confounded everyone when he became the Republican candidate and has continued to befuddle his critics and…