ET GBS 2023: Global business leaders express optimism for India’s growth amid geopolitical headwinds

The world economy in the last few decades has been fuelled by globalisation, but the current state indicates a shift away from this trend. With geopolitical frictions, trade tensions, and even natural calamities becoming more frequent, is the world retreating from globalization? What role will India play in this scenario?

The panel “Negotiating Global Headwinds”, held at The Economic Times Global Business Summit, presented the perfect stage for eminent CEOs to come together and answer these questions. The panel, moderated by economist and political analyst Ajit Ranade, featured CEOs from world-leading companies.

Despite the global headwinds, the panel showed unanimous optimism for India’s growth potential. A young and resilient population, burgeoning infrastructure, and significant growth in digitization, sustainability, and energy are all representative of a promising future.

Ben Driggs, President & CEO of Global High Growth Regions at Honeywell, highlighted that all four of Honeywell’s businesses in India are doing well, and the growth in the aviation sector is phenomenal. This sector will single-handedly generate a lot of employment in the country.

Jonathan Yap, CEO (Lifted Funds) at CapitaLand Investment, expressed similar optimism about employment, noting that the majority of India’s population is under the age of 35, and India could be a labour supplier to the rest of the world.He added that India’s population is resilient, and a period of consolidation will be followed by a set of creative solutions to deal with these headwinds.

“Uncertainty is an opportunity, particularly for India,”  Bob Moritz, Global Chairman of PwC, reaffirmed. He further highlighted that globalisation is not declining, it’s simply rewiring. In light of this, quick decision-making and data utilisation will be necessary for any country to navigate challenges and maintain growth.

Hans-Paul Bürkner, Global Chair Emeritus, BCG, emphasised that the trajectory of globalisation has never been a smooth upward trend. It has seen its ups and downs, and one must not be alarmed by a temporary downward trend. Considering frequent supply chain disruptions, economic stability requires a reduction in heavy reliance on a single trade partner. “It is important that countries continuously reevaluate opportunities and risks,” he added. Since trade flows will experience a major shift, it’s a significant opportunity for India to rise to the occasion.

Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman & CEO of Schneider Electric, agreed that one-size-fits-all is not the approach to globalisation anymore. Different parts of the world are competing for resources, and we’re entering a phase of transition. We’re going from a brown to a green economy, from a physical to a digital economy, and it’s only normal for the global economy to react to this transition. He highlighted the need for self-reliance by saying that countries need to shift their approach from being “global for global” to being “local first.”

Suneeta Reddy, Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals Group, reiterated the transition into a digital economy and emphasised that technology will have a huge role to play in enabling “frugal innovations.” Such innovations will improve the accessibility and affordability of healthcare in India and empower the country to become a pharmacy for the world.

All the panellists proudly claimed to have recruited a large pool of talent from India, with the intention of increasing these numbers in the upcoming years. With significant amounts of investment being poured into the country, India’s future is certainly bright.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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