June 26, 2020

Not the right time to disrupt global supply chain; can send wrong message to world: USISPF Prez Mukesh Aghi

Amid the growing military and trade tensions between India and China, US India Strategic Partnership Forum President Mukesh Aghi has said that China would never treat India equally and that New Delhi must grow its capabilities to become a major part of the global supply chain to survive. Since the coronavirus pandemic has not spared any nation, including the rising economies like India and China, Aghi believes it’s not the right time to stop key manufacturing of essential parts coming from China as it would hurt Indian as well as global economy.

“We are naive to think that China will treat India as an equal partner. China will never ever treat India as an equal partner. With the nation’s focus on the pandemic, China has become much more assertive and aggressive, trying to increase the sphere of influence. Look at what’s happening in the South China Sea, in Japan and what’s happening on the Indian border. India has to accept the fact that China will never treat India as an equal partner,” Aghi told India Today during an interview.

He also said that till India becomes a global manufacturing powerhouse and becomes economically and militarily more powerful than China, which could easily take around 20 years, it needs to buy peace.

“India needs to buy peace for the next 20 years in some way either with alignment or other fact. India needs 20 years of time to get his economic agenda right, get the quality of life of citizen up, get the per capita up, and spend more in defence. India needs that…India can’t be at loggerheads with China which is both military and economically more powerful. I think the smart strategy would be is make sure we buy that time,” he said.

He said the association wrote to the Indian government over the recent episodes of consignments from China being stuck at various ports in India. He said the Indian government needs to understand that a lot of these goods are part of global supply chain and if it wants to become a global player in the supply chain, a smooth flow of products must be ensured. “…it sends a wrong message to the boardroom where they (companies) ask: can we have India as a reliable partner in the global supply chain?” he explained.

Notably, India’s decision to hold back export items from China at ports and airports has not gone down well with the neighbouring nation. Indian exporters have said China and Hong Kong customs are holding back export consignments from India. Fearing a major tit-for-tat measure from China, the Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO) has said that chances of retaliation are high and the absence of official word on the matter has made the matter worse.

Considering the uncertainties and challenges to the operating environment, German express logistics major DHL has suspended its pickup operations from China, Hong Kong and Macao citing severe lag in customs clearance at Indian ports. The pickup of import shipments have been halted for 10 days.

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