Modi's India: Japan or China as Business Muse

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,,, at 8/28/2014 01:30:00 AM

Japanese, Chinese want the "Gujarat Model" replicated across India.

The selection of Najendra Modi as India's prime minister is taken as a sign that the rest of the country wishes to follow in the footsteps of Gujarat state that he used to govern--a liberalizing, open-for-business attitude that has seen it attract a considerable amount of foreign investment. The Japanese, in particular, seems excited. Having invested a lot in Gujarat, they look forward to similar liberalization and FDI-friendly measures being put into place nationwide:
Japanese executives at the meeting were also ebullient, praising the business sense and management capabilities of the Gujarat government, which Modi presided over for 13 years. "We don't have a very cordial relationship with China," Japanese attorney Tatsuhiro Kubo said at the Ahmedabad gathering, explaining why Japanese industry likes Gujarat, "so bonding with India is only natural."

More than a year ago, Jetro [Japan Export Trade Organization--Japan's trade promotion body] took the rare step of establishing a regional office in Ahmedabad . Suzuki Motor and Hitachi are among the Japanese companies that have invested in Gujarat. "Nearly 50 Japanese companies are in the process of setting up plants in Gujarat," said Mukesh Patel, president of the Indo-Japan Friendship Association.

In a meeting with Anandiben Patel, who replaced Modi as Gujarat's chief minister, Takeshi Yagi, Japan's ambassador to India, on June 7 expressed support for an exclusive Japanese industrial cluster in Gujarat, saying the number of Japanese companies operating in the state will soon rise from 60 to more than 100. Earlier this month, that industrial cluster began to take shape near Suzuki's existing plant in Gujarat.

Essentially, the elections in May gave Indian voters their first opportunity to say "yea" or "nay" to an economic model. Modi's party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, described what Modi accomplished in Gujarat as an "economic miracle," one that Modi promised to repeat across the country if he were to ascend to the prime minister's post.
Ironically given the Japanese lawyer's comments on their investment partly being based on India simply not being China, the model which Gujarat resembles is the so-called "Shenzen model" according to admiring Chinese (see this China Daily op-ed). Speaking of whom, the Chinese are also looking to invest in India despite historical grievances over border disputes. I guess commerce cannot be ignored:
While there is talk that Japanese investors saw which way the winds were about to blow, Chinese analysts also want to be seen as clairvoyant; they have been saying Modi's Gujarat model was built around China's Shenzhen model of development.

A direct comparision with Shenzhen, or even Guangdong, is somewhat outlandish, but there are a few similarities. During his four visits to China, Modi made inquiries into the country's system of special economic zones, which he considered important tools for rapid industrial development. Now China -- which might be looking for an edge in India -- has been pushing for special economic zones in the country. The Modi government recently gave an "in principal" approval to the request.

The coming months -- as the Modi government deals closely with investors from Japan, China and other countries -- will give a clear picture of the model Modi is working with.
As Jagdish Bhagwati put it, Indians and other Asians seemingly agree with Modi that growth must be created before it can be redistributed.