Last Updated: November 24, 2015
Last updated: Oct, 2015
Apart from being a critical driver of economic growth, foreign direct investment (FDI) is a major source of non-debt financial resource for the economic development of India. Foreign companies invest in India to take advantage of relatively lower wages, special investment privileges such as tax exemptions, etc. For a country where foreign investments are being made, it also means achieving technical know-how and generating employment.
The Indian government’s favourable policy regime and robust business environment have ensured that foreign capital keeps flowing into the country. The government has taken many initiatives in recent years such as relaxing FDI norms across sectors such as defence, PSU oil refineries, telecom, power exchanges, and stock exchanges, among others.
According to Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the total FDI inflows soared by 24.5 per cent to US$ 44.9 billion during FY2015, as compared to US$ 36.0 billion in FY2014. FDI into India through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) route shot up by 26 per cent to US$ 31.9 billion in the year FY2015 as against US$ 25.3 billion in the previous year, indicating that government's effort to improve ease of doing business and relaxation in FDI norms is yielding results.
Data for FY2015 indicates that the increase in the FDI inflows was primarily driven by investments in infrastructure and services sector. Within Infrastructure, Oil & Gas, Mining and Telecom witnessed higher FDI inflows, whereas IT services and trading (wholesale, cash & carry) drove the services inflows. Most recently, the total FDI inflows for the month of June 2015 touched US$ 2.05 billion as compared to US$ 1.9 billion in the same period last year.
During FY2015, India received the maximum FDI equity inflows from Mauritius at US$ 9.03 billion, followed by Singapore (US$ 6.74 billion), Netherlands (US$ 3.43 billion), Japan (US$ 2.08 billion) and the US (US$ 1.82 billion). Healthy inflow of foreign investments into the country helped India’s balance of payments (BoP) situation and stabilised the value of rupee.
According to the data released by Grant Thornton India, the total merger and acquisitions (M&A) and private equity (PE) deals in the month of August 2015 were valued at US$ 2.6 billion (151 deals), which is 62 per cent higher in volume as compared to August 2014.
Based on the recommendations of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), the Government, in a meeting held on September 29, 2015, approved 18 proposals of FDI amounting to approximately Rs 5,000 crore (US$ 770 million).
Some of the recent significant FDI announcements are as follows
The Government of India has amended the FDI policy regarding Construction Development Sector. The amended policy includes easing of area restriction norms, reduction of minimum capitalisation and easy exit from project. Further, in order to provide boost to low cost affordable housing, it has indicated that conditions of area restriction and minimum capitalisation will not apply to cases committing 30 per cent of the project cost towards affordable housing.
Relaxation of FDI norms is expected to result in enhanced inflows in Construction Development sector consequent to easing of sectoral conditions and clarification of terms used in the policy. It is likely to attract investments in new areas and encourage development of plots for serviced housing given the shortage of land in and around urban agglomerations as well as the high cost of land. The renewed policy is also expected to encourage development of low cost affordable housing in the country and of smart cities.
The Government of India recently relaxed the FDI policy norms for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). Under this, the non-repatriable investments made by the Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and NRIs will be treated as domestic investments and will not be subject to FDI caps.
The government has also raised FDI cap in insurance from 26 per cent to 49 per cent through a notification issued by the DIPP. The limit is composite in nature as it includes foreign investment in the form of foreign portfolio investment, foreign institutional investment, qualified foreign investment, foreign venture capital investment, and non-resident investment.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has raised the threshold for foreign direct investment requiring its approval to Rs 3,000 crore (US$ 469 million) from the present Rs 1,200 crore (US$ 187 million). This decision is expected to expedite the approval process and result in increased foreign investment inflow.
India’s cabinet cleared a proposal which allows 100 per cent FDI in railway infrastructure, excluding operations. Though the initiative does not allow foreign firms to operate trains, it allows them to invest in areas such as creating the network and supplying trains for bullet trains etc.
India is likely to grant most favoured nation (MFN) treatment to 15 countries that are in talks regarding an agreement on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP),which would result in significant easing of investment rules for these countries.
The Government of India plans to further simplify rules for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) such as increasing FDI investment limits in sectors and include more sectors in the automatic approval route, to attract more investments in the country.
According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Report 2015, India acquired ninth slot in the top 10 countries attracting highest FDI in 2014 as compared to 15th position last year. The report also mentioned that the FDI inflows to India are likely to exhibit an upward trend in 2015 on account of economic recovery. India also jumped 16 notches to 55 among 140 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index that ranks countries on the basis of parameters such as institutions, macroeconomic environment, education, market size and infrastructure among others.
India will require around US$ 1 trillion in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012–17), to fund infrastructure growth covering sectors such as highways, ports and airways. This would require support from FDI flows. During 2014, foreign investment was witnessed in sectors such as services, telecommunications, computer software and hardware, construction development, power, trading, and automobile, among others.
Exchange Rate Used: INR 1 = US$ 0.015 as on October 26, 2015
References: Media Reports, Press Releases, Press Information Bureau