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Despite covid-19-generated economic uncertainty, 71% of Indian business leaders are optimistic about the economy’s rebound to higher growth in 2021, than the global average of 57% for the world economic recovery, says Grant Thornton International Business Report.

The bi-annual global survey gathers responses from nearly 5,000 business leaders in 29 economies, including the G20.

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“The government’s consistent push for ‘Make in India’ and rising interest from companies and governments across the globe in meeting their sourcing requirements from India will pave the way for robust exports," said Vishesh C. Chandiok, chief executive officer, Grant Thornton Bharat.

While the report ranks India’s optimism the highest for growth in export in 2021, its increase in investment expectations is highest in new buildings, second-highest in plant and machinery and R&D and third highest in technology, among the 29 surveyed countries.

It adds that there is a stark juxtaposition in the export growth expectation levels of Indian businesses, which stands at 65%, against the Asia-Pacific region average of 30%. In the Western part of the world, 46% of leaders in North America foresee a surge in exports; the European Union export growth expectation stands at only 24%.

Interestingly, 43% of businesses in India claimed to grow their exports by more than 5% in 2020.

“In our research, increasing investment in infrastructure and reduction in tax and compliance costs have been highlighted as key pillars of recovery," said Chandiok, adding that along with the Aatmanirbhar (self-reliance) announcements of 2020, Budget 2021 has provided the economy with a big push—India is at a seminal moment and we now need to sustain the economic momentum that we will see this year and throughout the rest of this decade.

The survey also highlights various measures the government can take to help India emerge as a cost-competitive alternative to attract companies looking to diversify their global manufacturing hubs and supply chains. 61% of respondents cited ease of access to capital as the top enabler. While 59% of respondents seek simplification of tax and labour laws, 55% see logistics and infrastructure development as game-changers.

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