TOKYO: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised speedy clearances for Japanese investments, ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar today said India can get billions of dollars of fresh investments from Japan.
The areas that can attract such investments include railways, smart city projects, biotechnology, clean energy, electronics and the overall infrastructure space, Kochhar told PTI in an interview here.
"There is a huge potential to increase the fund flows from Japan and the investments can get a major fillip in the wake of Prime Minister's promise to improve ease of doing business and fast-track the clearances," said Kochhar, Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank.
Asked about the estimated size of fresh investments that can come from Japan into India, Kochhar said: "The figure can be huge and it would definitely be in billions of dollars.
"Japan is currently third largest FDI source for India and still its total FDI into India is only 1.7 percent of their overall foreign direct investments. Even if this figure goes to 5 percent, the total investments into India would easily become $5 billion."
She added: "Besides, we are getting only a small percentage of the total assets under management of funds available with Japanese financial institutions. There is huge scope for fresh investments in infrastructure space. The size of investments can be really huge."When asked what role ICICI can play, she said: "We can play a very significant role in funding lots of Japanese investments that would come to India. We are working with Japanese Bank of International Cooperation in areas including export credit guarantees.
"All India needs to do is focus on making its business environment more friendly. There is a very big opportunity for expanding Indo-Japan economic relations. They (Japanese investors) are looking for clarity in policy regime and improvement in ease of doing business."
She added: "Prime Minister has promised to do the needful. He gave an inspiring speech before Japanese and Indian businessmen and said that he has dealt with Japanese investors in a big way during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat. He said that the kind of environment Japanese investors were provided in Gujarat, the same would be replicated at the national level now," Kochhar said.
On major sectors that can attract investments from Japan, Kochhar said there were a lot of such potential avenues and infrastructure as such was a very big arena for such investments.
She listed areas such as railways, ports, urban development projects and smart cities, saying that the Indian government has pegged $1 trillion investment potential for the infrastructure sector itself."Clean energy has also a lot of potential, while in electronics space a number of Japanese companies are already present and there could be much more opportunity in terms of those companies setting up their new manufacturing base in India," she said.
Kochhar added: "Biotechnology is another emerging arena, while skill development is also presenting a huge opportunity as India's vast labour force would need necessary skills and Japan can be a partner country on these efforts."
ICICI Bank and JBIC have built close cooperative ties over the years through loan commitments in support of development of local industries important for Japanese companies expanding their operations in India, trade finance, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, and exports of machinery and power equipment from Japan to India.
Besides, ICICI Bank had also raised 50 billion Japanese yen bonds last year.
When asked whether the bank can tap that route again, Kochhar said: "We keep looking at opportunities and whenever some good opportunity comes, the bank will take a decision."
Earlier today, Modi addressed top business leaders of India and Japan and invited Japanese businesses to join India's developmental efforts with a promise of "non-discriminatory and speedy clearances" and announced setting up of a Special Management Team under PMO to facilitate business from Japan.
Addressing top business leaders of Japan and India here, Modi flagged the recent decisions to liberalise FDI policy in the railways, defence and insurance and said rules and laws are being changed in India which would show results in the near future.