New Delhi: The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) has said that hundreds of American companies are looking for a way to shift their manufacturing base from China to India. 

USISPF president Mukesh Aghi said that about 200 companies are talking to them about how to set up an alternative to China by investing in India, post the general elections. 

USISPF is a non-profit organisation, which aims at strengthening the US-India bilateral and strategic partnership.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal took to Twitter to laud Narendra Modi's Make in India programme. He said, "Under PM @NarendraModi's Make in India programme, we are becoming the factory of the world thus generating massive employment for the youth. Now nearly 200 American companies are planning to move their manufacturing base from China to India."

Meanwhile, Aghi said, “I think that's critical. We would advise to bring more transparency in the process and to make it more consultative because in the last 12 to 18 months, we are seeing US companies look at some of the decisions being made, either e-commerce or data localisation, as more domestic-oriented than global.”

In his reply to what the agenda of the new Indian government should be to attract investment, Aghi suggested that New Delhi needs to accelerate reforms, be more transparent in the process and engage more. 

“We need to understand how we can attract those companies. And that means all the way from land issues to customs issues to being part of the global supply chain. Those are critical issues. There's a whole plethora of reforms that need to go further down, and I think that is also going to create a lot of jobs,” he added. 
He said that Mark Linscott, the former Assistant US Trade Representative for South and Central Asian Affairs, is working with USISPF member companies to come up with a recommendation as to what India needs to do to enhance its exports and work up from that perspective. 

“One recommendation, which I strongly believe is going to help India is that we should now start thinking of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the US," Aghi said. 

"I think if India is concerned about cheap goods coming from China, an FTA will eliminate that need. You can put barriers to Chinese goods and still have the US providing access to the Indian market and Indian companies having more access to the US market, and issues like GSP would diminish,” he said. 

Aghi said that they have formed a high-level manufacturing council within the member companies, led by John Kern, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Operations at Cisco who are putting a document together detailing what India needs to do to turn it into a manufacturing hub. 

"We plan to have the document ready by the time elections are over as part of recommendation,” he said. 

“What they're saying is we want a backup strategy to start manufacturing in India. There are small-small issues, which can slow them down. And at the moment most of them are waiting for elections to be over. But there's a large deluge of companies keen to not only manufacture in India but also who want to go after the domestic market,” he said. 

On the amount of investment these companies would bring to India, he said the number in question is substantial. 

“If you look at, our member companies in the last four years have invested over $50 billion,” he added. 

With inputs from PTI