India will seek to become more “efficient, competitive and business-friendly” even as it becomes the President of G20 focussing more on addressing global challenges than discussing issues concerning the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war that can be raised at the UN Security Council (UNSC) can focus on, according to Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa for India.
In an exclusive interview to ABP Live, Kant said it is time for India to now make a handful of states become “best producers of the world” as global supply chains crash due to the Covid pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.
Kant, who was the CEO of NITI Aayog prior to this, stressed on the fact that the G20 is “not a bilateral forum”.
“G20 a multilateral forum. It’s also an economic forum. It’s not a forum to discuss security issues. It’s not a forum to discuss war issues, those issues are discussed in the UN Security Council. Therefore, the focus should be largely on economic issues. Geopolitics has an implication on food, fertilisers and on growth. And therefore, some of these issues spill over,” he said.
During the last G20 Summit that took place in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022, he said, the countries found a solution to the crisis by referring back to the UNSC Resolution even as the Russia-Ukraine war was on in full swing at the time.
“In Bali, the we found a solution to that by falling back on the UNSC Resolution, India played a very key and critical role in that. India worked in partnership with other developing countries to draft it out and put forth the framework which was accepted by everybody else which basically fell back on the UNSC Resolution,” he added.
Kant underlined that the G20 should focus only on economics, content, growth, progress, SDGs, digital transformation, women-led development, transformation of multilateral institutions which are India’s core priorities.
‘De-monopolisation’ In Manufacturing Is Key
Indirectly hinting at China, Kant said many global companies have concentrated their manufacturing in one particular country that has created a monopoly of sorts.
“Global supply chains are disrupted. It’s not an issue of decoupling but there’s a huge monopoly which has been built up and several companies have more than 90 per cent of their production in one country,” he said.
Kant added, “There needs to be a de-monopolisation… And alternative nations have to be thought of for manufacturing and I think that will happen in due course.”
As a result, he said, “The challenge is about making India very efficient, very competitive, very business-friendly and a lot will depend on the states and their ability to be highly competitive to be able to attract global value chains into India for manufacturing purposes.”
Kant said while conglomerates like Apple Inc. and Samsung are making India one of the manufacturing hubs, in the long run “it’s your competitive efficiency, your ability to be the best producer in the world which will be critical and India has a huge possibility and potential to do that”.
“Make yourself very efficient, your turnaround time at the airport has to be the best, your labour cost has to be very competitive, your laws are outdated and outmoded, you will have to become a best producer in the world and that is for India and Indian states,” he added.
According to Kant, while a lot of ease of doing business is being driven by the government, the actual momentum has to be carried forward by the states.
“You need about 15 states of India to become the best producers in the world,” he stressed.
‘India Will Speak Voice Of The Unheard’
According to Kant, India will leverage its role as the G20 President by speaking the voice of those countries who are not being heard in key multilateral fora.
“Whatever they (G20 countries) do has an implication of everyone in the world and therefore when the G20 Presidency falls on India, India should not speak the voice of only a few countries but should speak the voice of the entire world and speak the voice of those who are unheard of and who are suffering in silence and who may not be represented in G20 but facing a huge crisis of economic growth,” he said.
Kant added: “G20 is a grouping of both developed and developing world. Unlike the United Nation which has a very large diffused membership of 186 countries, it is very different from G7 which is just the seven countries of the world.”
He also said the G20 is important because it comprises about 85 percent of the global GDP, 80 percent of global trade, 90 per cent of patents and two-third of humanity.
However, according to Kant, India is facing “several challenges” and it will seek to address each one of those.
“There are several challenges. There’s a challenge of climate action. There’s a challenge of poverty, 200 mn people have gone below poverty line, 100 mn people have lost their jobs. There’s a challenge of geopolitics. There’s a challenge of global debt. India will face all these challenges as we go along,” he said.
Kant added, “Every challenge is a massive opportunity and a huge opportunity for India. That’s what leadership is all about. So we will look for solutions to the challenges. Our presidency will be very decisive, it’ll be action oriented and we will be very reform-minded and we will take the G20 forward. The challenges for us are many but we will work towards a progressive and reform-oriented approach.”