India Improves Investor Appeal

You may want to take a fresh look at business opportunities and investments in India, if a new World Bank report is to be believed.

In November 2001, Goldman Sachs published a landmark paper where they identified India, along with Brazil, China, and Russia as the four “BRIC” economies that the world needed to watch. Many companies and investors began investing in these countries.

In 2002, the World Bank launched a project to rank the Ease of Doing Business in countries across the world. For well over a decade, more than 135 countries ranked better than the world’s largest democracy — India continued to be stymied by red tape, limited infrastructure and an army of bureaucrats who seemed to revel in creating complex, conflicting, and even arbitrary rules. India ranked worst among the BRICs and many companies mitigated their enthusiasm for India as a result. Persistent players such as Abbott, Accenture, Boeing, Coca Cola, Cummins, Deloitte, Exxon Mobil, GE, Hewlett Packard, Mylan, Oracle, PepsiCo, Vodafone and Western Union thrived despite some setbacks.

In our consulting, we always advised clients to look at specific Indian states, rather than the entire subcontinent when locating sales offices, subsidiaries, or manufacturing plants; some states welcomed businesses while others did not care. For the first time in India’s 67-year-old democracy, the leader (Chief Minister) of a state was elected as Prime Minister in 2014. One of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first goals was to improve India’s business environment.

The latest report from the World Bank, “Doing Business 2018“, published this week, shows that India made important reforms in six of the eight areas that the Bank measures for its report. Small economies can pass reforms relatively easily and it is important to note that Nigeria and India are the only large economies to make significant improvements as shown in this table:

Table

To global companies and investors, it is even more important to note that India jumped by 30 ranks overall to go from 130 to 100 and leapfrogged over Brazil, which is stagnant at 125. Such an improvement in just three years since the new government took over is quite remarkable. The juggernaut of the BRIC countries is China and it is currently ranked at 78. If Modi’s government can keep up the momentum, it is not inconceivable that India might vault ahead of its autocratic neighbor in three to five years.

We often help clients to start a new company or office in India and that process has improved considerably. Getting credit and obtaining construction permits for a business has also become easier according to the World Bank’s research. Minority foreign investors in India felt vulnerable in the past but new procedures protect them a bit better while enforcing contracts might also become easier once the new National Judicial Data Grid starts paying results. Paying taxes electronically is becoming the norm and import of goods is being streamlined with more and more online functions for customs clearance.

Does this mean that India is an easy place to do business now? Not at all. The World Bank only measures a few criteria. Foreign companies have many challenges in India: the weather, the pollution, the current government’s tendency to place non- tariff barriers, even occasional price controls, and most importantly the illusion that they can readily understand India, just because they can understand their Indian-American physician.

Skeptics may ask, will progress continue? What if Modi’s party loses the next general election, scheduled in 2019? One major initiative that cannot be rolled back is that the states of India were encouraged to compete with each other for foreign and domestic investment. State leaders in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and at least seven other provinces and territories have led the charge in improving their own attractiveness. This genie cannot be put back in the bottle and we anticipate that up to 20 of India’s 29 states will join the race shortly.

If you have questions about how your company can do better in India or if you want to take a fresh look, Contact Us or drop me a note here on Linked In.

November 2, 2017   No Comments

Chinese Group Expects India to Overtake China in Innovation by 2025

According to China’s Science Technology Exchange Center, India’s innovation growth rate will rise significantly over the next 15 years, and come close to surpassing China. “It is predicted that the innovation competitiveness of India will see a significant rise with its growth rate probably surpassing China between 2025-2030,” the independent Chinese research body wrote in its BRICS Innovation Competitiveness Report 2017.

CNBC India reports: India has been taking notable steps forward in innovation, supported in part by Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s reform agenda. Government initiatives such as Digital India, which expands the country’s online infrastructure, and Startup India, which promotes financial backing for entrepreneurs, have been unveiled to boost the country’s innovation and technology sectors. Meanwhile, the country’s growing information technology and scientific expertise have also helped turn it into an increasingly dominant outsourcing hub.

Innovation Poster

The International Monetary Fund recently forecast India’s GDP to grow 7.2 percent in 2017 versus China’s 6.5 percent. This new study highlights the growth that can be expected in intellectual advances, such as science and technology, which are often perceived as indicators of future growth.

September 15, 2017   No Comments

OECD: India at the Top of Governmental Confidence League

According to the latest edition of the  Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development‘s Government at a Glance 2017 report, India, with a citizen support of 73%, is at the very top of the governmental confidence league. Canada ranks second with 62%.

Forbes says: Trust in government is vitally important. It serves as a driving force for a country’s economic development, makes governmental decisions more effective and leads to greater compliance with regulations and the tax system.

Russia and Turkey tied for the third spot at 58%; the U.S. scored 30%; and Greece is at the bottom with 13%.

Parliament House, india

Parliament House, India

 

 

July 15, 2017   No Comments

India Holds $124 Billion in U.S. Securities

The most recent data available with the U.S. Treasury Department shows that India increased its holding of American government securities to $124.1 billion at the end of April, a $7 billion increase from the previous month.

Among the BRIC nations, India had the third largest exposure to the U.S. government securities after China and Brazil, while Russia‘s holding rose to $104.9 billion reports the Press Trust of India.

With the U.S. economy witnessing relatively better economic growth trends, India has hiked its exposure to the securities. According to the latest estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis released last month, “Real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2017.”

picture depicting growth

June 27, 2017   No Comments

Russia to Build Two New Nuclear Power Plants in India

India and Russia signed the General Framework Agreement and Credit protocol for Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power plant located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd., and Russia’s Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Rosatom, will build the reactors. Each of the two units will have a capacity to produce 1,000 MW of power.

Both countries agreed that there were ‘steady and demonstrable’ achievements in bilateral civil nuclear partnership, including transforming the Kudankulum site into one of India’s largest energy hubs, reports BusinessLine.

PM Modi and President Putin

“We will strive to build an ‘energy bridge’ between our states and expand bilateral relations in all areas of energy cooperation, including nuclear, hydrocarbon, hydroelectric, and renewable energy sources and in improving energy efficiency. Cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy has emerged as one of the hallmarks of the strategic partnership between the two countries, contributing to India’s energy security and energizing broader scientific and technological cooperation,” said a ‘Vision Document’ issued after the talks.

June 8, 2017   No Comments