HELSINKI: Making a strong pitch for bringing investments, President Pranab Mukherjee today said India is fourth most attractive destination for Foreign Direct Investment for 2014-16 owing to easing of restrictions, growth and investor friendly atmosphere promoted by the government.
"India has emerged as one of the largest global economies and the resilience of our economy is evident from the fact that the impact of the global financial crisis has been far less severe in India than other countries," the President said while addressing Business Meeting at Finpro here.
The President said Indian economy grew at 5.7 per cent during the first quarter of 2014-15.
"The strong growth performance that marked our economy in the past decade, when we grew at an average rate of 7.6 per cent per year, has generated keen investor interest in India.
Though our GDP growth during the last two years at sub-five per cent was rather subdued, it was still higher than most major economies barring China," he said.
Mukherjee said there are now positive signals emanating that suggest a recovery is round the corner.
"With measures aimed at stimulating greater investor interest, strengthening macro-economic fundamentals and rejuvenating the infrastructure sector, the Indian economy is poised to once again achieve a seven-eight per cent rate of growth," he said.
The President said external sector has strengthened with a stabilised exchange rate, fiscal position has improved because of consolidation measures, price levels have come down and manufacturing sector is showing "nascent" stages of comeback besides food grains production reached record levels last year with agriculture sector recording growth at a robust 4.7 per cent in 2013-14.
"Presently, our Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy is widely seen to be amongst the most liberal in the emerging economies, allowing up to 100 per cent FDI under the automatic route in several of our sectors and activities," he said, adding that it makes India an attractive destination for investments.
The President said a growing India offers opportunities across sectors in an investor friendly environment for Finnish companies and is keen to further invigorate our bilateral engagement under the newly formed government which has chosen infrastructure and manufacturing as two key focus areas.
"Tourism is another area of immense potential in our bilateral relations. You would be happy to know that tourists from Finland can now obtain visas on arrival at Indian airports," he said.
Mukherjee said the infrastructure sector is a focus area for our economy with over a trillion US Dollars envisaged to be invested on infrastructure in coming years. The President said India has set up facilities and schemes such as Industrial Corridors, the Industrial Infrastructure Up-gradation Scheme, National Investment and Manufacturing Zones, Industrial clusters and Smart Cities to encourage investment in infrastructure.
"Development of infrastructure will not only propel economic growth in our country but shall also enable foreign companies that invest in India to participate in and partake the benefits of our growth," he said.
The President said in spite of the global economic downturn, bilateral trade has seen a substantial increase and has reached approximately USD 1.5 billion in 2013, which is an encouraging development.
"However, I am of the firm opinion, that this does not do justice to the true potential for economic and trade co-operation that exists between our two nations. We need to explore the untapped areas where opportunities exist," he said.
Mukherjee said the Indian government is committed to a business-friendly environment – impediment free, predictable, facilitatory and transparent.
"To that end, India has embarked on an ambitious 'Make in India' program to make the country an investor-friendly destination by setting up single window clearances, e-Business portals and Investor Facilitation Cells. I am confident that Finnish investors shall take optimum advantage of the new policies unveiled," he said.
He also called for collaborations between Finland and India in Education sector, saying the Finnish education system is one of the best in the world and scores very highly in international ratings.
Earlier, addressing the Finnish Parliament 'Eduskunta', Mukherjee appreciated Finland's support for India's candidature for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council.
"We are committed to working closely with peace-loving nations to address regional and global issues of common interest including urgent issues such as combating terrorism, mitigating the effects of climate change and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. India counts on the continued support of Finland in multilateral fora," he said.
He said although the two-way trade between the two sides has crossed one billion Euro mark it is not the reflection of the true potential for bilateral trade and commerce.
"Despite the global economic downturns there has been substantial growth in our economic and commercial relations, particularly in sectors such as oil and gas, shipping and maritime industries, renewable energy and IT services," he said.
"I am confident that in the coming years there shall be far greater engagement between us in all areas- economic, geo-political, social and cultural. Our Government's manifest desire to engage more substantively with the Nordic region cannot be conveyed better than through the composition of my delegation - which includes eminent educationists, scientists and businessmen. We hope to move forward with renewed vigour in all these areas," Mukherjee said.
He said Finland's technology in areas such as communications and information technology, energy, shipbuilding, manufacturing, biotechnology, environment, healthcare and infrastructure services is amongst the best in the world.
"India would like to take advantage of your expertise in these areas...The new Government in India is focused on growth and creation of employment opportunities. It is taking measures to encourage investments, revive the manufacturing sector in India, promote skills development, develop smart cities, address social issues and engage closely with partners in these areas. Business sentiments are positive and strong; it is a period of opportunity in India," he said.