Post COVID: As US shifts base from China, an ocean of opportunities for Odisha
By Ananda Kumar Mishra
Recently, a top US-based advocacy group had said that about 200 American companies are seeking to move their manufacturing base from China to India. This throws up a fantastic opportunity with firms looking for alternatives to the Communist giant.
In this scenario, Odisha needs to showcase faith and capability to turn a global crisis into business opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak is an opportunity to reshape and implement digital strategies, which in turn, will create new opportunities.
Capability building and new value creation are key for such transformations. Japan is a good example of using such strategies to bring about economic reforms and establish world class companies after World War II.
Technology will play a crucial role for Odisha Government in integrating Small and Medium Enterprises into online businesses and providing them the right support needed to build world class products.
Experts feel that India, and Odisha in particular, have a good chance of becoming an attractive manufacturing hub provided the Government tweaks some of its trade policies to bring down commodity prices in the wake of more than 200 American companies planning to shift base from mainland China to India following the Wuhan pandemic tragedy.
The crisis has offered an opportunity for more professional and transparent public-private partnerships. Investors can seize the opportunity in the long run through technological innovation and capital market reforms. Entrepreneurial spirit thus becomes crucial for Odisha startup businesses to take advantage of this opportunity.
Public-private partnership should be strengthened in view of the coronavirus outbreak. The US companies are expected to be more open for collaborations, while business firms in Odisha should develop capabilities and a willingness to contribute more to public goods. This will build up the base for a more professional and transparent collaboration in public interest.
With Odisha Government focusing on industry-friendly environment through Make In Odisha platform, the new opportunities provided through interested US companies wanting to shift base from China will come as a boon. Odisha can activate its ready-to-move infrastructure with better sea ports, well-equipped road network, power supply, water resources and above all, a proactive Government machinery to welcome investors to explore the State’s natural resources, especially the mineral reserves.
Meanwhile, steps should be taken to encourage startup ecosystem to avail this opportunity in Odisha. The doors for setting up exports and manufacturing units in Odisha should be opened up. A long-term strategy for investment in Odisha should be planned to help it emerge as a manufacturing hub of South Asia. Dedicated teams should be formed by the State Government to handhold the implementation of long-term plans.
The new export strategy of the State Government should be fast-tracked and focus should be on improvement in standards of quality products, value addition in traditional export products, products and market diversification, downstream and ancillarisation of industries. This will unleash the potential of e-commerce and development of eco-tourism in the State. The current re-rating of the market is factoring in the possibility of some growth being shaved off owing to the coronavirus effect. Post coronavirus, markets will look for economic growth which is expected from the second half of next year.
Economic recovery and earnings in India may be slightly derailed, as the corona scare is having a devastating impact on travel, tourism, hotel, manufacturing and service sectors. Even the big corporate sectors have started to scale down operations and productivity due to constraints such as work-from-home and other related factors.
On the other hand, the financial sector has been rocked by one scandal after another, shaking the confidence of investors as well as lenders. For a sustained economic recovery, it is imperative that credit growth picks up. It is time India and Odisha pull up their socks and be ready for building the country as the next superpower of the world. Odisha should strategise and bring about economic and financial reforms to convert corona crisis into a catalyst for change and give an impetus to the State GDP and growth opportunities in India.
Investors should make strategic moves in making Odisha an industrial and manufacturing hub in the world market.
Technology will play a crucial role for digital transformation of Odisha’s SMEs and MSMEs. The State’s strategy should be to use this opportunity and turn it into a business model where world class hubs could be built in Odisha.
After the pandemic, a majority of companies, such as manufacturers and heavy industries sector, which are reluctant to move online, will consider the option of digitalisation.
New business models are emerging, especially in sectors such as health care, logistics, automation, online office, entertainment, retail and education in Odisha.
New generation Smart Cities are key to the future public agenda. Besides certain urban functions, a new generation Smart City will systematically enhance public management by integrating supply chains, traffic, emergency and disaster warning. In Odisha, Bhubaneswar and Rourkela are emerging as two Smart Cities under the ambitious Smart City Mission of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
(The author is founder-CEO of city-based startup Grozip and India country ambassador of Alibaba and UNCTAD)