Infra, regulations key to India being part of global supply chains, says expert

iNDICA News Bureau

The US consulate in Mumbai hosted a webinar March 22 on boosting MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) capacity to make India a supply chain leader in the Indo-Pacific region.

The webinar came after President Joe Biden’s announcement of a new Indo-Pacific strategy, laying out a vision for U.S. engagement with its partner nations and how this will be accomplished over the next 12 to 24 months.

President Biden’s action plan underscores how the U.S. can assist in India’s rise as a regional leader and contribute to stability in South Asia and freedom in the Indo-Pacific.

Covid-19 has caused many disruptions in global supply chains and made it clear to companies around the world that they need to diversify from having just Chinese suppliers. This has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity for India to grab a larger share of these supply chains.

Despite India’s strengths, other countries are often chosen as alternatives to China by businesses internationally. The webinar aimed to examine why this was so and how India could capitalize on and maximize this pandemic-induced opportunity.

The panel included Dr Nallan Suresh, distinguished professor of supply chain and operations management at the State University of New York, Buffalo, and Anjali Pandey, vice-president, engine and components business, Cummins India. It was coordinated with the help of the US-India Importers Council.

Dr Suresh’s opening remarks featured an overview of the concept and criticality of supply-chain management, its state of affairs during the pandemic, and the position India occupies and can occupy in future as a robust part of the global supply chain, particularly given the shifting center of the global focus toward Asia in general and India in particular.

A chart showing top exporting countries, shared by Dr Nallan Suresh, UB Distinguished Professor (Supply Chain & Operations Management) at The State University of New York, Buffalo.

He outlined India’s current global standing in terms of GDP, purchasing power parity per capita and exports. He also explained how India could scale up its manufacturing sector to increase its imports and exports per capita and improve the country’s position internally as well as in the global chain.

Asked what India should be doing differently, he said the country needs to raise its manufacturing output. To do so, he outlined two major interventions — by focusing on scaling, particularly in the MSME sector, and using SEZs (special economic zones, where tax laws and other regulations are eased) as a catalyst.

He also outlined how India needs to cut through the red tape and streamline regulatory processes.

To provide context, he examined China, Vietnam and Korea which have scaled up their manufacturing sectors and the lessons India could take from these countries to efficiently reach its goals.

He also touched upon several key strategies — like improving the Ease of Doing Business ranking, changing the composition of the country’s export basket, increasing operationalization of the SEZs by building infrastructure and transport, and changing the regulatory environment — which India must begin to adopt.

He stressed that the GVCs (global value chains) are currently diversifying as a measure of supply chain disruption management, and India is poised to benefit from this, if it can prepare its industry accordingly.