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 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

In 2016, India Held $118.2 Billion U.S. Government Securities

Data available with the U.S. Treasury Department showed that India was the 12th largest holder of U.S. government securities at the end of 2016, with exposure worth $118.2 billion in December.  Among the BRIC countries, India stood at 3rd place after China and Brazil in terms of exposure.
US Currency
Japan – $1.09 trillion
China – $1.06 trillion
Ireland – $288.2 billion
Cayman Islands – $263.5 billion
Brazil – $259.2 billion
Switzerland – $229.3 billion
Luxembourg – $223.4 billion
United Kingdom – $217.1 billion
Hong Kong – $191.4 billion
Taiwan – $189.3 billion
Belgium – $120.4 billion
India – $118.2 billion

April 13, 2017   No Comments

India’s Motherson Sumi Acquires Finland’s Automotive company

Noida, India-based automotive component firm Motherson Sumi Systems, a joint venture between its parent Samvardhana Motherson Group and Sumitomo Wiring Systems of Japan, acquired Finland’s PKC Group Plc for about $609 million.

“We are very happy to announce that we have successfully acquired 93.75 per cent shareholding in the PKC Group, which has significant market presence in the American and European markets with major growth plans in China,” chairman Vivek Chaand Sehgal of Motherson Sumi said in a statement. The acquisition will expand the company’s footprint significantly in the commercial vehicle segment.

Headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, PKC is a global tier 1 supplier of wiring harness and associated components to original equipment manufacturers in the heavy and medium duty commercial vehicles and locomotive segments across North America, Europe, Brazil and China, reports Livemint.

Motherson Wiring Harness

Motherson Wiring Harness

 

April 3, 2017   No Comments

India’s Growth Shatters Auto Sales Records

More than three million cars were sold last year in India, a 6.4% increase over 2014, according to Euromonitor. Sales are expected to grow by 4.7% in 2016 as buyers are encouraged by lower fuel prices and reduced interest rates, reports CNN Money.
“We are going to see a flood of crossovers hitting the market,” said Anil Sharma, principal analyst at IHS Automotive. These models — half sedan and half SUV — appeal to consumers looking to make a lifestyle statement.

Tata Hexa a Crossover SUV

Tata Hexa: a  crossover SUV

Indian consumers are very sensitive to shifts in economic conditions. For the vast majority of the country’s 1.3 billion citizens, cars are still a luxury product. Prices are also low compared to the global average: A new car can cost as little as $3,000.
Neil King, auto analyst at Euromonitor, says India has the potential to leapfrog Brazil, Germany and even Japan to become the third largest car market by 2030.

February 13, 2016   No Comments