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

India’s Army to Receive 6 Apache Helicopters

India’s Defense Acquisition Council has approved the purchase of six Apache attack helicopters from Boeing, for $700 million.

The variant of the attack chopper that the Indian Army will get is the Apache AH-64E, which has a height of 15 ft and a wingspan of 17 ft. The helicopter has a primary mission gross weight of 15,075 pounds, with a vertical rate of climb that is more than 2,000 ft per minute and a maximum rate of climb of more than 2,800 ft per minute. The chopper also has a maximum level flight speed of more than 150 knots, reports International Business Times.

AH-64 Apache

August 18, 2017   No Comments

Air India Seeks Loan for Six Boeing Aircraft

Even as the Government of India is working on the final plans for a strategic disinvestment of its stake in loss-making national carrier Air India, the airline is ready with plans to fly to more overseas destinations. The airline seeks offers from banks and financial institutions to arrange bridge financing of up to $740 million for the purchase of six Boeing 787-8 planes, according to a tender document.

An Air India Aircraft

“In addition to the Government of India guarantee, Air India will offer the aircraft as a security. The facility should be a direct loan without the requirement for formation of a special purpose vehicle structure which requires title transfer,” the tender document said.

Air India has a fleet of 110 airplanes, including 33 Boeing aircraft, reports BusinessLine.

 

August 8, 2017   No Comments

India Signs $100 Million Service Deal with Boeing

Seattle-based Boeing and India’s Navy signed a $100-million contract, that requires Boeing to maintain spare parts and personnel in India, ready to respond to any defects or failures in the P-8I fleet over the next three years. This ‘performance-based logistics’ contract requires Boeing to continue the warranty services it has so far provided under an initial production contract, which will expire in October.
Pratyush Kumar, president of Boeing India and vice president of Boeing International said, “With this contract, the Indian Navy can be assured of achieving exceptional operational capability and readiness of the P-8I fleet.”

The Business Standard says that India’s Naval pilots fly their P-8Is on eight-to-ten hour surveillance missions over the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Each P-8I carries seven tonnes of weaponry on board, including advanced Harpoon missiles and heavyweight torpedoes.

Harpoon2 by Boeing

Harpoon2 by Boeing

June 20, 2017   No Comments

India to Be 3rd Largest Buyer of Passenger Planes

With India set to buy 2.2 new airplanes for each of the 480 aircraft currently in service, it is poised to become the third-largest buyer of commercial passenger planes in the world. The U.S. and China are the only countries to have more pending aircraft orders says a report released by the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation, a Sydney-based aviation think tank.

Boeing predicts that India will need 1,850 new planes over the next two decades, and says that these orders will be worth $265 billion. CNN reports that  220 million Indians flew last year — an annual increase of 20% — and the country is on track to overtake the U.K. as the world’s third-largest aviation market by 2026.

However, there are challenges to this expansion: airlines can buckle under the pressure and become defunct; infrastructure such as airports and traffic control will need to gear up to match India’s aviation boom.

 

A plane in flight

June 9, 2017   1 Comment