Rakesh Jhunjhunwala: Trump’s trade war is good news for India

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, founder of Rare Enterprises

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, founder of Rare Enterprises

“The China-America spat on trade is a great opportunity for India,” reckons Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, the billionaire investor often described as India’s answer to US tycoon Warren Buffett. With the Indian government taking steps to make it easier to do business in the infamously bureaucratic nation, “I don’t see any reason why growth in India will not come back with a bang”, Jhunjhunwala tells Tanvir Gill of CNBC.

India’s economy has been struggling with upheaval in the banking sector and weak investment, but reforms to the tax system alongside efforts to tackle corruption under Prime Minister Narendra Modi (who at the time of going to press looks likely to win re-election for another term), mean that things are gradually improving, he says. “The journey to limit crony capitalism: it’s a journey, not a destination. Slowly but surely in India, crony capitalism has died and governance is what brings about real growth.”

While a Modi victory may not bring a repeat of 2014’s bonanza year for the Indian market, Jhunjhunwala remains upbeat. One of the most appealing sectors, he reckons, is the airline industry. Air travel is “a big growth story”, yet there are only a few players in India, some of whom are insolvent. New rivals are unlikely to emerge in the near future because of the huge costs involved in setting up in the country. “So you’re not going to have new airlines, this market is going to grow, there are going to be three groups of solvent players… what’s going to happen? I’m extremely bullish.”