Forget India as a consumer market, here’s what Delhi wants to sell you

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Crawford Market in Mumbai, India.

India, home to 1.3 billion people, offers a huge consumer market. But, according to one business expert in the country, the capacity of the world’s second largest population to sell is undervalued.

“I think one of the areas which we need to start talking about is also services,” Rakesh Bharti Mittal, president of the Confederation of Indian Industry, told CNBC on Monday. “So far, we’ve been talking more on trade, on products.”

“India is known for its software power. It does back office work and software development across the globe — so why should those strengths not be looked at?” he said at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London. “Given that we are talking about all economies going digital — digitization is the buzzword — I think that India can play a very important role.”

Mittal also spoke of India’s potential as a hub for cybersecurity, particularly given recent headlines about data privacy. “A lot of investment will go into this,” he said.

India’s information technology sector is projected to grow to approximately 8 percent of gross domestic product in the fiscal year of 2017, said a report by the National Association of Software and Services Companies, an industry body. This is valued at $154 billion.

According to a report by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the country “remains the world’s top sourcing destination in 2017-18 with a share of about 55 percent.”

But India is more likely to expand its exports globally on a multilateral basis, Mittal said.

“The matter of fact is that regional, bilateral trade agreements are on the backburner. FTAs (free trade agreements) have not resulted in both sides being happy. Someone gains and someone else loses, and that’s what we are now seeing globally.”

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