DPM Tharman sees manufacturing as way for India to integrate with Asia

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam (left), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, pointing to the audience during the question-and-answer session on Nov 21, 2013. With him is Mr P. Chidambaram, India's Minister of Finance. Like China and South-east A
Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam (left), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, pointing to the audience during the question-and-answer session on Nov 21, 2013. With him is Mr P. Chidambaram, India's Minister of Finance. Like China and South-east Asia, India should develop its export manufacturing sector in order to seize opportunities for growth and integration in Asia, said Mr Tharman. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

Like China and South-east Asia, India should develop its export manufacturing sector in order to seize opportunities for growth and integration in Asia, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

This is because export manufacturing provides the strongest learning opportunities and will also create jobs for the large number of young people who will be entering the Indian labour force, he said.

"This is within India's advantage," he said at the South Asia Diaspora Convention on Friday.

But to do so, India must invest in education and skills, and this needs the help of "creative public-private partnerships".

It requires also the investing in infrastructure and relaxation of its labor market laws that currently do not encourage the hiring of workers, he said.

In addition to export manufacturing, Mr Tharman said that urbanisation and financial liberalisation are also needed for India to participate in growth and integration in the region.

Financial liberalisation is needed to spur investments without causing a drain on government coffers, he said. This can also help fund start-ups and small and medium enterprises to spur innovation.