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Transcript of Media Briefing on upcoming visit of PM to Davos

January 20, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Namaskar, good afternoon and a very welcome to this special briefing on Prime Minister’s visit to Davos for the World Economic Forum and to do the briefing I have with me Secretary (ER) Shri Vijay Gokhale, Secretary (DIPP) Shri Ramesh Abhishek and Addnl. Secretary (DIPP) Shri Atul Choudhary. I will initially ask Secretary (ER) to give the initial opening remarks, then Secretary (DIPP) will take you through the program of Prime Minister in Davos as well as certain events which will be taking place after the Prime Minister’s visit.

Secretary (ER), Shri Vijay Gokhale: Thank you Raveesh, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Today’s briefing is on the Prime Minister’s visit to Davos. It is a short visit of just 24 hrs. but it is a very focused visit and it is taking place 20 years after last time a Prime Minister went to Davos, which was in 1997 and that time of course India was an economy which was very below, $1 trillion. Today we are an economy above $2 trillion and therefore this visit by Prime Minister is qualitatively different from earlier visits by Prime Ministers to Davos.

The main event is of course the keynote speech that the Prime Minister will give at the plenary session on the 23rd of January and there are other engagements which my colleague Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion will take you through. There will also be a bilateral engagement with the President of Switzerland and there are occasion for pull-asides with other leaders as and when these are fixed depending upon the requirements.

I think the important thing in this visit is going to be a signal that we engage with rest of the world in a very multi-dimensional way. This is occurring at a time when India’s attractiveness as an economy has gorwn where there is a quantum jump in our rankings in multiple indices and in the context of the recent reforms that the government has announced particularly in the last one year. I think the focus therefore is for our Prime Minister to articulate his vision of how he sees the Indian economy is contributing not only the domestic improvement fo the benefit of the people of India but also on a global scale. With those few remarks I would like to invite my colleague Secretary (DIPP) to go through the program and to provide some details.

Secretary (DIPP), Shri Ramesh Abhishek: Thank you. On 22nd there is round table dinner organized for interaction with the Global CEOs including Indian CEOs. There are 60 confirmed participants as of today, 40 of them from 18 different countries and 20 from India. These 60 companies are across 26 different sectors and the market cap of all these companies is $3.3 trillion, if it had been a country it would have been fifth largest in the world.

12 of these companies have generated jobs of around 4 million around the world, 1 million out of that is in India. 12 companies have been operating in India for over a century. We are looking forward to Prime Minister’s interaction with the CEOs of such scale and stature because of the opportunities that India provides today in terms of various sectors, ease of doing business and so on as Secretary (ER) has mentioned, we would like to showcase all these.

Just mention quickly also that interaction of the Prime Minister with 120 members of the International Business Council which is a part of the World Economic Forum actually. It is a properly constituted group within the Forum. He will be interacting with them in the afternoon of 23rd. We have got some very important names there as well. Just to mention a few names from our 22nd dinner, we are getting the CEO of the Airbus group Dirk Hoke, the number one in Hitachi group Mr. Hiroaki Nakanishi similarly Professor Klaus Schwab will also be participating in the dinner on 22nd.

We have chairman of BAE Systems Mr. Roger Carr, Chairman, President and CEO of IBM Mr. Ginni Rometty, just to give you a flavor and the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Carlyle Group Mr. David Rubenstein. Similarly in the International Business Council also if you see the list which is there on the World Economic Forum website, they are the top names in the world. CEO of General Motors Mary T. Barra, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Chairman of Board of Executive Directors of BASF, Nestle, JP Morgan Chase and whole lot of people.

So these two interactions with 60 and 120 CEO will provide a direct opportunity for the CEOs to not only interact with the Prime Minister but also get comfort and information about transformative changes happening in India which presents huge opportunities to them. On the evening of 22nd January we i.e. Government of India is hosting a reception in the Congress Center which is the main venue of the World Economic Forum. About 1500 delegates are expected to participate in that, we are showcasing the various achievements that India has made in the last few years in terms of ease of doing business, in terms of massive opportunities in future and we are also going to give a taste of Indian exquisite cuisine to the participants and also some taste of our culture and heritage.

Next day after the plenary session PM intends to have an interaction with the Indian CEOs who will be in Davos attending this forum. So these are some of the major highlights of the Prime Minister’s program. In addition six Hon’ble Ministers are also visitingDavos. Hon’ble Finance Minister will be there on 24th January and he will be addressing some very critical sessions, one will be the most important being Country Strategy Dialogue on India. It is one of the signature events of the World Economic Forum so he will be part of that including the Commerce & Industry Minister and Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, they will also be part of this discussion.

There are other discussions also with Hon’ble Finance Minister. Commerce and Industry Minister also will have 9 session in all in three days, from 23 to 25 January. Similarly Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, will be participating in five sessions. Railway Minister Hon’ble Piyush Goyal Ji will be participating in ten session over a period of 3 days. Dr. Jeetendra Singh will also take part in 3 sessions and Mr. M J Akbar, MoS, MEA will be participating in 2 sessions on 24th January. So these are some of theprograms of the Hon’ble ministers. Large number of these sessions allotted by World Economic Forum to be addressed by our Ministers shows the importance that the World Economic Forum has given to India this year. So in addition to Hon’ble Prime Minister we also have these programs.

In addition we are going to organize a large number of round tables on finance, financial inclusion for promoting digital payments, clean energy solutions for a better future, development of railway industry in India, developing skills in a digital world and promoting design in India. These seven specific investor round tables have been organized by Invest India. We have hired space for that and Hon’ble ministers will be participating in these discussions as well in addition to the officials. We are also providing the facility of doing Yoga by taking two Acharyas from here and this is also part of the World Economic Forum program. This will be showcasing of our soft power. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Thank you sirs, now the floor is open to questions.

Question:Which are the Indian CEOs who have confirmed the participation?

Secretary (DIPP), Shri Ramesh Abhishek:
There a number of them. Mr. Baba Kalyani is there, Mr. Uday Kotak, Pawan Munjal, B K Goenka, Chadrashekharan from Tata, Tulsi Tanti, Anand Mahindra, Sunil Bharti Mittal, a whole lot of them.

Question:Two brief questions, this is for Secretary (ER). Mr. Gokhale, the US has continuously over the last couple of months expressed concerns about the trade deficit, $30 billion trade deficit, the US Ambassador also recently said that it is time to look at the strategic relationships through the economic lens. As and when the Prime Minister has conversations with the world leaders and if there is a bilateral with President Trump, what is the larger message we will have on that front? And my question for Secretary (DIPP), recently the government announced 49% FDI for Air India through the government approval route, any conversations that have been indicated or any companies which have shown interests to talk about this?

Secretary (ER), Shri Vijay Gokhale:This is a multilateral economic conference. I think the Prime Minister’s central message is going to the international community that India is open, it is ready to do business, it has done major reforms, it is on course to being one of the fastest growing countries in the world in terms of GDP and I think the prime minister will stick to the centrality of this message.

To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think President Trump will be in Davos at the same time as our Prime Minister but the central point here is that we have to speak there about India’s achievements in the past few years and the opportunities that India presents to global business and that will be the message that prime minister will deliver.

Secretary (DIPP), Shri Ramesh Abhishek:On Air India, see the FDI policy earlier prevented foreign airlines from taking equity in Air India. They could take equity in any other airline with government approval but not in Air India. So this restriction has been removed by the cabinet in the recent changes. Who exactly has expressed interest in Air India or otherwise is something that Ministry of Civil Aviation will be able to answer.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:May I request all of you to keep your questions linked to World Economic Forum and Prime Minister’s visit to Davos.

Question:Are we looking at some pacts between the business heads at the summit and also what are the outcomes that we are looking at the summit?

Secretary (ER), Shri Vijay Gokhale:I am sure there would be some business deals between business persons but it is not normally practiced as these are part of the official engagements of our Prime Minister. I think that this is not a bilateral visit therefore it is not to be seen in terms of outcomes in terms of documents. I think the principle purpose is to give a message to the wider community because present in the audience will not only be the business persons but also people from other walks of life like political, media and so on.

So to give a larger message globally because this is considered one of the major platforms in the world to also give a message behind closed doors with Chief Executive Officers of companies we are interested in getting investment from and to speak to the Indian companies about the vision for India in terms of outbound investment as well as inbound flows of technology. I think those are the outcomes that we would like to see.

Secretary (DIPP), Shri Ramesh Abhishek:See, our prime minister has been interacting with the CEOs from around the world in various forums in last many years. And you can see that Davos presents a great opportunity to interact with a large number of them in one place at the same time. So that is a great forum, great place where you have so many top CEOs coming so the message of transformation that is happening in India’s economic policy, the changes that are being made, the ease of doing business that are being done, it is a great forum to share those and also answer some of the issues and queries that they may have which gives comfort to the CEOs, so that is the whole purpose.

Question:The question is for Mr. Gokhale. Last year we saw Xi Jinping try and assume a leadership role, he has said, he has gone on record suggesting that capitalism is a double edged sword but it can’t be blamed for world’s economic problems. So will we see Prime Minister Modi now adopt similar aggressive stance in marketing the India growth story?

Secretary (ER), Shri Vijay Gokhale:I think we have a lot to speak about to the international community. The form and content of what the Prime Minister intents to deliver is something what we have to wait for when we hear the prime minister. I think the fact is that there are certain economies and certain countries which are contributing more and more to global growth, one of them is China, another of them is India.

So the message that essentially we are going to deliver is that we are an open economy, we have done significant reforms. We offer market, we offer talent and we would like the world to come and invest in this country. And I think that is the centrality of the message and it is about India.

Question:My question to Mr. Abhishek, you said that India is going to showcase what we have achieved in the last few years and I am not going into the content of the Prime Minister’s speech but the fact that he has been invited for the keynote speech there, can you tell us what kind of showcasing you are trying to do, what are the indicators and what are the things that we have done in the last few years which you want to show in this summit?

Secretary (DIPP), Shri Ramesh Abhishek:See, the foremost is the projection that India will be sixth and fifth largest economy in the world in the coming years. From $2.3 trillion, we are going to become $5-6 trillion economy in the coming years. We have a population where the disposable income will increase rapidly in the coming years with more and more growth taking place. These present a massive opportunity to foreign companies as well as Indian companies that is why we are finding that people are coming and tapping these opportunities more and more.

Secondly, the transformative reforms that are being done, GST being a prime example of being that. Also the jump in our ease of doing business ranking by the World Bank, that shows that on the ground things are changing. The rankings are a big deal for global investors, they look at it with great respect because they know how grueling the scrutiny is and the integrity of that process is very high. So these are the kind of reforms and whole lot of them, you can go sector by sector.

The government has taken steps to improve the infrastructure, look at the massive expenditure in the public infrastructure that is being done. The logistics space is looking at a transformation with this investment and with GST. We are making our economy more competitive which has been one of the major problem. So by doing reforms in several areas, I think this opportunity is very clear and we have been showcasing this and Davos presents a great opportunity to showcase this whole opportunity plus the reform agenda to a large number of CEOs at one time.

Question:While showcasing India’s highlights, could you just take us through one or two key concerns areas that India would like to flag at this forum and this interaction and the kind of statements that have been coming out of the Trump administration, do they give strength to the trade protectionism lobbies?

Secretary (DIPP), Shri Ramesh Abhishek:So far as we are concerned, our policies on trade and investment are very clear. India is a member of WTO and we abide by our international obligations very carefully and meticulously, so our policies are very clear and we continue to engage with all the countries of the world on these terms.

Question:Recently the US Ambassador has commented that a lot of American companies are facing hurdles in operating in China and he had said that India has a massive opportunity of becoming manufacturing hub for these American companies to operate. So when you read out the list of the top global CEOs who are going to meet Prime Minister Modi, will this be one of the issues that will be raised that he will ask them to invite them to make India a hub?

Secretary (ER), Shri Vijay Gokhale:I am sure that will be the central message that he will give. It is not for us to say as to where they will relocate from or in what form that investment will come but I think the central message is that we would like a greater amount of foreign investment in all the sectors that we have opened up recently and earlier and that the government of India and the state governments are willing to take whatever steps are necessary to get that investment.

Question:At a time when the US has been harping on about the fact that Donald Trump is going to be coming there and trying to put across the aspect of America First and he is giving the closing speech while the Prime Minister of India is going to deliver the keynote speech and they won’t be meeting at a time when also the World Economic Forum is focusing on something that is about trying to work when the world is fractured, that is the theme. Will there be any specific message from the Prime Minister of India keeping in mind they are not meeting with Donald Trump who has his own agenda about trying to work together as a country when the focus will be specifically on India and America, when the speeches have been given by the premier leaders of both countries?

Secretary (ER), Shri Vijay Gokhale:I don’t think there was any plan for the two leaders to meet each other so the issue of whether they are both present at the same forum and are not meeting is a moot point. I think the Prime Minister’s message is very clear that we are an economy which has become already an engine of global growth and that engine is going to grow in the coming years and to that extent our vision is that of an open inclusive global system whether its investment, whether it is trading, whether it is building infrastructure for that matter and in that context we would welcome participation of foreign countries and foreigncountry’s investment in our own growth and we would likewise want to participate in the growth of other countries. I think that is the message that Indian Prime Minister will deliver at Davos.

Question:As you mentioned Prime Minister Modi’s visit of the Davos would be the first Indian Prime Minister in 20 years, even after Prime Minister taken over the central government here 3 or 4 WEF have happened. Is there specific reason or set of reasons that Prime Minister chose this year to visit Davos at WEF, is it just the invitation for the plenary session or the set of reasons economic, political, a message, something that was awaited like high increase in the ranking of ease of doing business? What was the set of specific reasons?

Secretary (ER), Shri Vijay Gokhale:My sense is that the Prime Minister wanted to show that things were happening on the ground in terms of economic development before speaking about it and in the last one year a number of reforms have occurred. Improvement in the rankings in a number of agencies is one reason. As Secretary (DIPP) said, the GST, the recent reforms introduced on single brand retailing and so on are other reasons and so the message is we have opened up the economy, not that we are going to, we have opened up the economy and you are welcome to come and take advantage of it.

Question:If you don’t mind a part of negative appreciation is also coming on bureaucracy. Recently Benjamin Netanyahu also said that bureaucracy is becoming a hurdle, his message was like that in front of Prime Minister himself. So are you going to dispel this misconception or conception whatever it is in Davos?

Secretary (DIPP), Shri Ramesh Abhishek:See bureaucracy is an essential tool of delivering governance around the world so it is not something that is unheard of. Now over a period of time it is a fact thatin our country we had accumulated very complex procedures and processes, way of interacting with citizens and that made life difficult for common people as well as businesses, that is a fact of life. Now the important thing is, in the last three years we have tried to make dramatic improvements in the situation.

If you see the example of World Bank report, it only covers ten percent of the ease of doing business that we are doing, it is only one small part in Mumbai and Delhi and some significant government departments. Some of those interventions are very big actually. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, we didn’t have any, now we have. So a lot of changes are taking place.

Look at the ranking of states that we are doing in ease of doing business, it is massive. Last year 7000 plus reforms were done. This year almost 15000 reforms and some of that would include the earlier 7000 are being done. Now we can see that within bureaucracy some people are becoming champions of change. Technology driven governance, reducing interface with the people, time bound approvals, deemed approvals, risk management systems, robust systems in place, inspector raaj being dismantled one by one.

See all this legacy of 60-70 years is not going to go away in a day but I think what needs to be appreciated is we are going in that direction. When we go to these events, not only even when we have CEOs coming to us, we identify the problems that they face in India, not only in central government but in states also and one by one we address those problems.

When we are going to Davos we have identified the problems pointed out by many of these companies at policy level, central government level, state government level or regulator level and we have held meetings to see that many of these are at least resolved. If no resolution is taking place at least we know what is being done about it. So those are kind of efforts that are being made today so I think the effort that is going on needs to be appreciated.

Question:Ye kaha ja raha hai ki jis samay Pradhan Mantri Davos mein honge, theek usi samay Pakistan ke pradhanmantri bhi wahan honge kyonki Pakistan ke naye pradhanmantri ke banane ke baad ye pahla mauka hoga jab dono desh ke pradhanmantri ek jagah honge. To koi gunjaish hai ki unki meeting ho ya courtesy call ho?

(It is being said that both the Indian Prime Minister and Pakistan Prime Minister will be at Davos at the same time. Since this will be the first time after swearing in of new Prime Minsiter of Pakistan when prime ministers of both countries will be at one place, so is there any possibility of a meeting or a courtesy call?)

Question:May I ask the Secretary (DIPP) as to what is the session that the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will be addressing, as you said it will be a very important session?

Question:Is there any special session on Yoga, what the Yogacharyas will be doing there giving performances or training sessions or what?

Secretary (ER), Shri Vijay Gokhale:On the first question, as far as I am aware no meeting is planned between the two prime ministers.

Secretary (DIPP), Shri Ramesh Abhishek:Coming to Yoga, it has been included in the regular program of the World Economic Forum. We are offering classes every day, two experts are going from here and we have arranged that including we are offering a facility of doing Yoga at the Alps itself.

On the finance ministers program, the very important Country’s Strategy Dialogue on India takes place so our Finance Minister, Minister for Commerce and Industry and also Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas will be a part of it from the Government of India side. This interactive session is meant to understand current market developments and policy priorities for India, provide views and perspectives, identify opportunities for PPP. Opportunity for political leaders, business executives and policy expert to engage on a forward looking dialogue, so that will be the most important session perhaps but finance minister also has two other sessions.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Thank you sirs. With this we conclude the special briefing on Prime Minister’s visit to Davos. Thank you all for joining and have a good day.
(Concludes)

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