India must aspire to be the largest FDI recipient globally and “has everything going for it”, given its vibrant digital profile, huge market and investor-friendly policies to woo foreign companies, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Tuesday.

Prasad, who is the Minister for Electronics and IT as also Communications, said that the rapid pace of economic development, India’s rising clout globally and citizen-centric digital transformation initiatives are “irreversible”.

Sending a strong signal to potential investors, Prasad said the government remains “accessible and open”, as he instructed officers to have an investor-friendly attitude in dealing with companies.

Given the recent announcements on tax relief for manufacturing, India has the same tax regime as Vietnam and Thailand. “If any foreign investor is not given a good treatment by my officers, I will not like it. If I hear a complaint...I want my team to be open and accessible because we need investments,” the minister said.

Prasad said India has become the 5th largest economy globally. “If this is the level of India’s maturity in economic development surely why we should be ninth biggest recipient of FDI...In my view, India must be the top most centre for FDI. This is the goal and we all need to work in that direction,” the Minister said addressing ‘Invest Digicom 2019’. He said, “India has everything going for it.”

Jump in investments

Prasad said FDI has seen a jump over the last few years and grossed USD 64 billion in FY19. Telecom sector attracted FDI worth USD 2.67 billion, while electronics, computer software and hardware together witnessed USD 6.4 billion.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) equity inflows stood at USD 16.3 billion in the first quarter of 2019-20 against USD 12.7 billion in the year-ago period.

“India has been leveraging technology not just for benefits to economy and commerce but also digital empowerment. The country today has a digitally thriving ecosystem for commerce,” he said.

“India’s stance that right of internet access is “non-negotiable” has been a position that was acknowledged globally,” Prasad said, adding India’s firm standpoint against Facebook’s Free Basics did not hamper its FDI due to the strength of its thriving market.

The Minister, who held a CEO roundtable with top leaders in telecom and electronics manufacturing industry earlier this month, said that the country offers a huge market for companies like Apple and others to make for India and also export. “Apple has begun to love India and they are welcome to India,” he added.

‘Far-reaching decisions’

Speaking to reporters later, he said that India has changed rules and tax regime to attract the best manufacturers in the world. “The far-reaching decisions that we have taken has also been heard by Apple. Apple has started production in India in a very effective way,” he said.

Industries in electronics and communications space are enabled by policies, including Digital Communications, electronics manufacturing, as well as software products. The communications sector after its ups and downs has now reached a stage of stability and maturity, he noted.

“India has a lot to offer,” said the minister, noting that the country represented a key market for social media firms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. Data will be an important area of growth and India should aim to be a global hub in data analytics, as it maintains a proper blend of data availability, utility and data innovation with data privacy.