India Rises in WEF’s Competitive Rankings

India jumped 16 places to number 39 out of 138 countries rated in the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness ranking, due mainly to better infrastructure and strong economic growth. In the World Competitiveness Report 2016-2017 rankings are made on the assessment of 12 parameters: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.

India has made significant progress on infrastructure, one of the pillars where it ranked worst,” said the report.

Rail Infrastructure

Switzerland, Singapore and the U.S. were ranked first, second and third, respectively. China was ranked 28th, Sri Lanka was 71st, while Pakistan ranked 122nd.

The report also highlighted some of the remaining problems of doing business in India: confusing tax regulations, corruption and others, says the Wall Street Journal.

October 4, 2016   No Comments

Flipkart Claims User Base Exceeds 100 Million

India’s e-tailer Flipkart crossed the 100-million registered users mark, becoming the first e-commerce company in the country to hit the milestone.

Flipkart Logo

Its investors include Tiger Global, Naspers, Accel Partners, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, T Rowe, and GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.

The Bangalore-based company doubled its user base over the last year and added 25 million users in the past six months. A recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch Report pegs Flipkart as the leader with over 43 percent market share, and predicts that by 2019, Flipkart will increase its share to 44 per cent.

The Hindu reports that e-commerce companies in India have witnessed tremendous growth on the back of strong demand for smartphones and increasing data usage. India, which is among the fastest growing e-commerce markets globally, is expected to continue on the growth momentum over the three to five years, it says.

 

October 3, 2016   No Comments

Dramatic Changes Predicted at Future of Asia Conference

According to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council‘s  (LAWAC) Future of Asia Conference that took place on September 15 and 16, “Asia is a continent where the stakes are rising rapidly – both in economic promise and expansion of individuals’ horizons, but also in environmental and security challenges.”

57 speakers, that included Gunjan Bagla of Amritt Inc., and 414 attendees engaged in wide-ranging conversations at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica, California  about the future of the Asia-Pacific and its relations with the U.S.  “Asia’s Emerging Middle Class”, is predicted by the Organization for Economic C0-operation and Development to grow from 500 million in 2009 to 3 billion by 2030; and by 2050 more than 50% of world GDP will be generated in Asia, up from one-third today.

Quotable quotes from the conference as provided in a summary by LAWAC

Shivshankar Menon, former Indian National Security Adviser, said that by 2030 “Asia will surpass the combined economic and military might of North America and Europe – this is not that the U.S. is declining, but that China and India are rising.”

Martin Drew, CEO  of Etihad Airways USA  said, “In India, currently only 3% of the population travels overseas – a “mere” 40 million people, while in China just 4% of the population has passports – and Chinese tourists still spend more money around the world than any other nation.  Wait until they reach American levels of 35%, or European levels where 70% of the population has a passport!”
 “One Canada is being built every year in Asia” said Benjy Ward from the architectural firm Gensler.

Andy Xie, former top China economist for Morgan Stanley, said, ” “the nominal GDP [of China] is up by 22 times, but nobody has made money off the stock market – that is totally nuts! All China’s problems can be traced to misallocation of capital.”

“China and India will account for half the Asian middle class by 2030 and one-third of the global middle class,” said Alan Siqueira of Wells Fargo. “The numbers are staggering and will generate significant growth opportunities for multinational companies.”

Bilahari Kausikan, ambassador-at-large from Singapore, said that South East Asian countries “want to have the best possible relationship with both the U.S. and China, and do not want to have to choose between them – the U.S. will play a vital role in maintaining this balance.”

Duncan Clark, the author on a book about Alibaba’s Jack Ma, recounted the meteoric rise of Ma from tour guide to one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the world through his ability to “lead and inspire – he is a fantastic talker.”

Gunjan Bagla of Amritt said that under Prime Minister Modi “corruption in the higher levels of India has been pretty much eliminated.”

Jonathan Friedland of Netflix said, “Incomes are rising enormously across Asia and there are lots of adaptations for mobile businesses. All of this benefits the consumption of entertainment.”

Admiral Harry Harris, the Hawaii-based PACOM commander, said in his keynote speech, “I want you to stop for a minute and think about this – combining nuclear warheads with ballistic missiles in the hands of a volatile leader like Kim Jong-Un is a recipe for disaster.”

Dinner Keynote by Admiral Harry Harris

Dinner Keynote by Admiral Harry Harris

Eiichi Katahara from the National Institute of Defense Studies in Tokyo expressed paradoxical concerns about China: “Yes, we are concerned about China’s growing [military] capacity, but we are also concerned about China collapsing.  We need China to be stable!”

“There is a low probability of conflict breaking out over the South China Sea,” said Admiral Dennis Blair, former PACOM commander and Director of National Intelligence.

Richard McGregor of the Financial Times, said of the relationship between Japan and China,  “Japan is not sure if they want China to succeed or fail.” On the same topic, Liu Ming from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences said, “I think our countries are both very smart. We will have half competition and half cooperation.”

Jeff Wasserstrom of UC Irvine cautioned that by trying to build railroads in violence-prone countries like Pakistan, China might be overstepping – “China is venturing into dangerous territory there.”

Summary

Terry McCarthy, president and CEO of  the LA World Affairs Council summed up the various discussions and deliberations of the two day conference:

The future of Asia is, of course, uncertain territory – full of opportunity, but pricked with risk and unknowable unknowns. Who could have imagined a penniless tour guide from a small Chinese city rising to become the world’s largest online seller in the space of 15 years?  As Asian countries continue to grow in economic and political might, one of the defining questions for their future, and for the future of the world, will be the quality of leadership in Asia – in government, in board rooms, and in society at large. ”

 

September 28, 2016   No Comments

India’s Telecom Industry Consolidates

According to Mobile World Live, India’s fourth largest operator Reliance Communications (RCom) and smaller rival Aircel signed definitive documents to effect “the largest-ever consolidation in the Indian telecom sector”, creating the country’s third largest operator.

Merger talks between the two companies have been ongoing for a year, and now RCom and Maxis Communications Bhd, parent company of Aircel, will each hold 50 percent of MergedCo, with equal representation on the board and committees.

Telecommunication Tower

Meanwhile, Mint reports that some creditors are getting nervous. “The joint venture merger is most likely credit negative for debt holders of 2020 bonds,” said Trung Nguyen, Singapore-based senior credit analyst at Lucror, which slashed its recommendation to sell. “It will effectively subordinate bondholders claims on assets that bring in the largest chunk of the operating income.” This sentiment was echoed by  Raymond Chia, head of credit research for Asia ex-Japan at Schroder Investment Management Ltd in Singapore. “This merger is already attracting negative reactions,” he said.

 

 

September 24, 2016   No Comments

India’s Wild Tiger Rum Boards Tiger Air

India’s Wild Tiger Special Reserve Rum has partnered with Singapore’s Tiger Air flights to retail on all routes operated by the carrier. Wild Tiger first launched in the U.K. in 2015 before expanding into UAE markets, as well as Bangalore and Mumbai travel retail, reports The Spirits Business.

Produced from a blend of molasses and cane juice, the dark amber liquid is obtained by  distilling molasses spirit in columns which is then aged in American Oakwood casks which once stored Bourbon Whiskey. The resulting beverage is then blended with pure cane juice spirit achieved from double distillation in pot stills and bottled.

Wild Tiger Rum

Just as no two tigers share the same stripes, the stripe design on each bottle of Wild Tiger is unique, making each bottle a ‘special edition’. The company donates 10% of its profits towards its own non profit Wild Tiger Foundation, which works with wildlife establishments and tiger experts to save the tiger and its habitat.

Wild Tiger founder and Indian drinks entrepreneur, Gautom Menon, said, “Given India’s strong ancient roots to the origin of rum we would like to take an Indian brand to new territories and unscaled heights. We are starting our in-flight sales journey with Tiger Air before it’s available on other leading carriers of Europe and Asia.”

 

 

 

June 19, 2016   No Comments