Wasted Chances

Daimler exec slams India's Modi for foiling growth

Narendra Modi
Not rolling out the red carpet for foreign investment. Source: AP

A Daimler regional manager criticized trade policies of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an unusually sharp manner, telling local media that planned increases on tariffs for auto components are killing foreign carmakers and stifling the country’s ambitious plans for growth. “Whenever we see a bit of growth, we get taxed more,” said Roland Folger, who manages Indian production for the maker of Mercedes-Bnez vehicles. “The costs for taxes and logistics are finishing off exports.”

The tariff increases announced at the beginning of February are designed to stop the flow of imports from China. But by reversing India’s path to trade liberalization and reverting to the knee-jerk protectionism of the past, Mr. Modi is undermining his own plan to grow the economy fast enough to create jobs for the country’s rapidly growing population.

Daimler is coming to see India as the “land of thrown-away chances,” Mr. Folger told Indian journalists. His remarks went viral on social media and were viewed in German diplomatic circles as an unusually blunt critique of India’s economic policies.

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