New Delhi: Commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday said gross foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows rose marginally in fiscal year 2017-18, playing down a recent report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that showed a dip in inflows in 2017.

Prabhu said gross FDI inflows jumped 3.2% in 2017-18 to touch $62 billion, against $60.1 billion a year earlier. Gross FDI inflows include reinvested earnings by foreign investors and other capital that is usually discounted in FDI inflows. FDI equity inflows, according to data released by the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) for 2016-17, stands at $43.5 billion, while for the first nine months (April-December) of 2017-18 it stands at $35.9 billion.

In its World Investment Report 2018, UNCTAD said India’s FDI outflows more than doubled in 2017 to $11.3 billion while FDI inflows fell 9% to $40 billion during the year. The drop in inflows occurred despite India seeing one of its largest FDI deals, with Petrol Complex Pte Ltd (Singapore), owned by Rosneftegaz (Russia), buying a 49% stake in Essar Oil Ltd, the second largest private sector Indian oil company, for $13 billion.

“While UNCTAD looks at the calendar year data, we capture the data in the financial year format," DIPP secretary Ramesh Abhishek said.

Prabhu said that to facilitate the 8% growth, the government is working on several areas, including a new industrial policy, “which is going to make India ready for the fourth industrial revolution and beyond".

“We have created a vision for a $5 trillion economy in which $1 trillion will come from manufacturing, $3 trillion from services and $1 trillion from agriculture and allied sectors," he told reporters at an event held to celebrate four years of the National Democratic Alliance government.

On his visit to the US next week, Prabhu said, he will meet his American counterpart and raise India’s concerns about the tightening visa regime in the US and its impact on the Indian IT sector. “We will raise the visa issue because we feel that Indians and their spouses are facing some issues there," Prabhu said, adding, “we will explain our position. It is not a formal trade talk... there are no huge expectations".

India is also expected to raise its concern regarding the US review of the generalized system of preferences through which Indian exporters get preferential market access to the US.

On the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)—a proposed free trade agreement between the 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) and six other countries, including India and China—Prabhu said India is engaged in the negotiations and also holding bilateral talks with countries such as China, Australia and New Zealand with whom it does not have free trade agreements.

“What we are saying in RCEP is that it is a comprehensive economic partnership pact and in this services should be an integral part of the agreement," he said.

Indian and Chinese officials who met this week failed to resolve their differences on tariff liberalization. Ahead of a July RCEP ministerial meet in Tokyo, China demanded tariff elimination in more than 90% of traded goods for granting non-reciprocal market access to India. India’s current offer is of tariff elimination in 73% of traded goods to China.

The RCEP deal is facing headwinds as member countries push India to commit to a higher level of tariff liberalisation while they remain non-committal about India’s proposal for a strong services pact allowing the movement of skilled professionals within the 16-member bloc.

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