PM Narendra Modi meets CEOs, urges deep India engagement

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi held candid discussions for two hours with CEOs of global and Indian firms in food processing — Amazon, Walmart, ITC, BritanniaBSE 0.04 %, Cargill, Coca Cola, Future Group, Pepsi, Nestle, Trent, Hershey and Metro Cash & Carry — and invited them for a deeper and more productive engagement with India.

CEOs met Modi for tea on the lawns of his residence. They raised key issues in the sector and complimented Modi for the government’s liberal policies on foreign investment as well as GST, which has made operations and transportation easier, and the World Bank’s recognition of how India has taken a quantum leap in making business environment significantly easier, officials and company executives said.

CEOs of Amway, Danfoss, GalxoSmithKline, Ise Foods, Kikkoman, Lulu Group, McCain, OSI Group, Mondelez International, Sealed Air, Sharaf Group, Spar International, and the Hain Celestial Group as well as food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal were also present in the meeting, according to an official statement. The CEOs are in Delhi for the World Food Fair, which Modi inaugurated earlier on Friday.

“There was a lot of positive energy in the interaction. The prime minister was very responsive and very open. He is a good listener, and he gave some very good suggestions,” Cargill Asia Pacific CEO Peter van Deursen told ETafter the meeting.

The government said that the CEOs told the prime minister that they were inspired by his dream of doubling farm incomes and the economic reforms undertaken by the Centre in the past three years. “They especially appreciated the structural reforms and bold initiatives such as GST and the liberalisation of the FDI regime,” it said. The Prime Minister appreciated “focused suggestions” made by the CEOs, the statement said.

Kishore Biyani, chief executive of Future Group, who was at the meeting, said industry leaders discussed the huge potential for food processing in India, which had prompted companies to commit investment. “There was huge appetite (from foreign investors)… (they) talked of huge opportunity and market here. Huge investments coming in. In the room, all CEOs put together had a market cap of $2 trillion.”

PepsiCo chairman D Shivakumar said, “Prime Minister Modi focused on food security and wastage in the food chain. He urged companies to build products with high nutrition content and evaluate if we can take Indian products global.”

The chief executives said food processing was vital for raising farm productivity, food and nutrition security, creating jobs, and adding value to agricultural produce. The CEOs presented an overview of their initiatives for inclusive growth in India’s food processing, agriculture, logistics, and retail sectors; and showed keen interest in opportunities that exist, for strengthening the post-harvest infrastructure, officials said.

The Prime Minister said that the observations of the CEOs indicate tremendous enthusiasm about India, the official statement said.

He welcomed the measures being taken by companies to raise agricultural productivity and farmers’ incomes, and emphasised the government’s resolve to reduce input costs for the farmer, and eliminate losses due to wastage of farm produce, it said. “He invited the global CEOs for a deeper and more productive engagement with India,” it said.

Source: Economic Times

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