India and several Southeast Asian economies need to develop a three-pronged strategy – job creation, digital innovation and smart cities and air connectivity – to excel in the current global trade scenario, said Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore’s deputy prime minister who is of Indian origin.

“India needs 10 to 12 million jobs per year, and you [India] are currently far short of that,” Shanmugaratnam said at the HT-Mint Asia Leadership Summit in Singapore on Friday. “It requires new strategies, and India has embarked on those strategies. There has been impressive progress in infrastructure, in roads, rails and now airports.”

However, he added that the pace of improving the ease of doing business and liberalising foreign direct investment “is not enough” and there is a need for “a more decisive change”.

“The source of economic dynamism has always been competition and learning, and it is through trade and investment across borders that we learn the fastest,” Shanmugaratnam said, adding that the government’s Make in India initiative “has to be for the world and India” and has to have “an external orientation”.

He also warned Asian nations againsts taking on a “path of isolation” amid the trade war between China and the United States, Channel News Asia reported. “[It is] important not to take this as a signal that we should start looking at domestically-oriented strategies, or start turning inward,” he said. “The opportunities and the critical necessity of opening up remain in Asia.”