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India set sights on US$5t economy by 2025

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India is working toward a five trillion dollar economy by 2025, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today at the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, as he courted global investors to Asia's third largest economy.

[DAVOS] India is working toward a five trillion dollar economy by 2025, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today at the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, as he courted global investors to Asia's third largest economy.

"India is removing the red tape and laying out the red carpet," said Mr Modi, the first Indian prime minister in two decades to attend the high-level forum.

"Almost all areas of our economy have been opened to foreign direct investment," he said. "More than 1400 archaic laws that were an obstacle to doing business" have been abolished in the last three years.

Mr Modi is spearheading efforts to attract foreign investment to kick start growth in India's economy, which is forecast to expand at the lowest since 2014.  This month his government eased restrictions on foreign direct investment in several sectors, including single brand retail, real estate brokerages and power exchanges. He allowed overseas airlines to invest in state carrier Air India Ltd.

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Earlier Mr Modi relaxed rules on investment in defense, construction, insurance, pension and other sectors resulting in highest ever foreign investment inflows in the year ended March 2017.

He warned as countries became more inward-focused, globalization "is shrinking." "Although everybody is talking about an inter-connected world, we must accept globalization is slowly losing its lustre," he said. "Trade agreements have come to a standstill. Growth in the global supply chain has also stopped." "It feels like the opposite of globalisation is happening. The negative impact of this kind of mindset and the wrong priorities cannot be considered less dangerous than climate change or terrorism," Mr Modi said.

"The solution to this worrisome situation is not isolationism. Its solution is understanding and accepting change and formulating agile and flexible policies for these changing times."

His Davos address followed US President Donald Trump's decision to impose tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines, in his first major protectionist move to level a playing field he says is tilted against American companies. Mr Trump is scheduled to speak at the World Economic Forum on Friday.

On the promise of cutting graft and creating jobs, Mr Modi was voted to power in 2014 with the biggest mandate in three decades. He got a shot in arm when Moody's upgraded India for the first time in 14 years and was further buoyed when India made it into the top 100 in the World Bank's Doing Business rankings last year, narrowing gap with competitor China. The annual budget on Feb 1 is his next opportunity to revive growth.

BLOOMBERG,REUTERS

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