Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal will hold bilateral meetings next week with a number of global corporate honchos, including Walmart chief executive officer Judith McKenna, Visa chairman Alfred F Kelly Jr and Unilever CEO Alan Jope, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, in a bid to woo investments, an official source told FE.
Goyal will court foreign investors, attend an informal meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and parley with key ministers of South Korea, Russia, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland, as he leads the Indian delegation to the 50th edition of the WEF from January 20 to 24. And, if all goes well, a meeting with US trade representative Robert Lighthizer may also be held there, ahead of US President Donald Trump's expected visit to India soon.
Interestingly, his meeting with McKenna comes at a time when Amazon, the main rival of the Walmart-backed Flipkart, has pledged investments of $1 billion to digitise small businesses in India and exports of $10 billion of Indian goods by 2025, amid mounting tirade against e-tailers by the country's brick-and-mortar stores. The meeting with Visa chairman comes close on the heels of the Cabinet clearing a data protection Bill.
Goyal's Davos visit takes place at a critical juncture for the country, as economic growth is projected to crash to a 11-year low of 5% in FY20, hemmed in by a collapse in investment growth to just 1%. Also, world trade is witnessing heightened uncertainties, as a trade war between the US and China, and a collapse of the WTO's dispute appellate system have only multiplied challenges for countries like India that have been staunch advocates of the rule-based multilateral trading system. Goyal will also hold separate meetings with Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, Allianz SE’s Oliver Baete, GIC CEO Lim Chow Kiat, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board president and CEO Mark Machin, Temasek CEO Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, Ikea CEO Jesper Brodin and Blackstone chairman Stephen A Schwarzman, among others. He will also meet WTO director general and the secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
He will attend round tables on ‘Accelerating Investments in Indian Railways’ and attracting global institutional investments in India, according to a commerce ministry statement.
The minister will take part in the WEF along with Union minister of state for shipping and chemical and fertilizers Mansukh L Mandaviya and chief ministers of Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh; finance minister of Punjab and IT minister of Telangana.