Post-GFC, China vacated about $140 billion in exports in unskilled-labour intensive sectors, including apparel, clothing, leather and footwear. India did not take advantage of this opportunity, created by China’s organic process of becoming richer and hence less competitive in unskilled labour-intensive activities.
Now, post-Covid a second opportunity stemming from geo-politics has been created and that is India’s big prize waiting to be seized. In fact, India still enjoys large export opportunities, especially in labour-intensive sectors such as clothing and footwear. But exploiting these opportunities requires more openness and more global integration. Abandoning export orientation is thus akin to killing the goose that lays golden eggs.