New ‘industrial renaissance can prevent West's social strife’

AFP . London | Update:

Sanjeev Gupta, head of the GFG (Gupta Family Group) Alliance, speaks during an interview with AFP in London on 28 January 2019. Photo: AFPAn "industrial renaissance" in countries like Australia, Britain and the United States can help tame the political forces dividing Western societies, Indo-British tycoon Sanjeev Gupta told AFP in an interview.

"There will be a renaissance of industry in these countries," said the 47-year-old metal industry boss, who heads up the GFG (Gupta Family Group) Alliance.

After a series of takeovers, his company will employ around 30,000 people worldwide and have an annual turnover of around $20 billion ($17.5 billion) by the end of this year.

Gupta disputed the idea that industry was shifting inevitably to the East, arguing that a new wave of industrialisation would require "higher educated or better skilled labour, which is more easily available in developed countries."

"From a social point of view, you can't have a sustainable society without an industry," he said from his Hyde Park headquarters.

"Without this you will have problems like we are seeing everywhere in the world, whether it's in France, in the UK, in the US.

"Everywhere we will see these problems emerge where you have the middle part of the society left behind as the services sector tries to go ahead," he added.

Turning to his adopted home country, Gupta said Brexit would "100 percent have an impact" on his company, but there were "pluses and minuses" in any outcome.

"Of course we are concerned and we are waiting for things to settle down," he said.

"Ultimately there will be opportunities, but we really want to see these issues resolved and the country move on because everything has come to a sort of standstill.

"Either way, we will invest in the UK but the journey will be a little bit different."

- Future is regionalism -
Another example of his focus on western industry is the recent acquisition of a huge aluminium foundry in Dunkirk to help "reindustrialise" France.

"France's industrial decline is very clear. It's time to reindustrialise," he said.

In addition to the $500 million already paid, GFG Alliance has promised to invest an additional $55 million to upgrade the plant.

Born into a family of industrialists in Punjab, Gupta started his own business after studying economics at Britain's prestigious University of Cambridge.

Despite the globalised nature of his journey, Gupta is preparing for a shift towards more localism in industry in contrast with the globalisation of the 1980s and 1990s.

"Industries, countries, will look to have a full sufficiency in their supply chains rather than depending on global supply chains," he predicted.

Of his own company, he added: "Even if we are present globally, we are not truly a global business. It's a regional business".

   
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