‘Trade war opportune time for India to attract MNCs’

MNCs' wages have gone up and the trade war with the US has begun to close the access of the multinationals into the US market: Economist and former NITI vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya

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Arvind Panagariya on trade war opportunity
Arvind Panagariya (file photo)

New York City: The escalating trade war between the US and China is an “opportune time” for India to attract the large multinationals looking for alternative locations outside the communist country, eminent economist and former vice-chairman of NITI Arvind Panagariya has said.

Speaking at a panel discussion organised by the Consulate General of India in New York City, Panagariya strongly called for India to slash tariffs on imported motorcycles and automobiles through “give and take” negotiations with the US.

The economist said as the large multinationals “are coming out” of China, “it is an opportune time for India to do whatever it will take to bring these multinationals to the Indian shores”.

“This is also a great time for India to begin attracting the large multinationals that are now looking for alternative locations. Their wages have gone up and the trade war with the US has begun to close the access of the multinationals into the US market in a big way,” Panagariya said on Monday.

Panagariya stressed that the US was asking India to open up its markets.”It is a good thing for India. It would open unilaterally but here is an opportunity to actually negotiate with the US. Give them something and get something in return,” he said at the event titled ‘Economic Priorities for the New Government’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Panagariya called for undertaking labour law and land acquisition reforms to them more flexible to attract the multinationals. He emphasised that rather than using tariffs, India can use the exchange rate to its advantage.

Having served for three years as the G-20 Sherpa of India, Panagariya said in his experience with the US, he learned that Washington “believes only in negotiations – give and take”.

Panagariya’s remarks came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began this three-day visit to India and the two sides are expected to discuss economic and trade ties that are witnessing signs of strain.