India eyes $100-billion FDI in next two years; Plans industrial clusters for some countries, says Suresh Prabhu

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Updated: December 28, 2018 9:26:12 AM

India will aim to receive USD 100 billion in foreign direct investments in the next two years and special industrial clusters are being created for countries like Japan, South Korea, China and Russia where their companies can invest and operate, Union Minister Suresh Prabhu said.

Union Minister Suresh Prabhu (File)

India will aim to receive USD 100 billion in foreign direct investments in the next two years and special industrial clusters are being created for countries like Japan, South Korea, China and Russia where their companies can invest and operate, Union Minister Suresh Prabhu said. The commerce and industry minister said his ministry has also identified sectors and countries which holds huge potential for investments in India.

“I have given a target. USD 100 billion of FDI should come from different sectors into India. It will not happen in one year. We have identified companies, sectors and countries and now we are going for road shows to attract investors,” Prabhu told PTI in an interview. He said India would remain a top destination for foreign investors in 2019 and the ministry would look at all sectoral issues that may come come in the way to attracting overseas investments.

“For countries like Japan, South Korea, China and Russia, we are creating industrial clusters where they can invest and operate,” Prabhu said.

The minister said China has agreed to set up industrial parks in India and the Chinese authorities have been asked to give a list of companies that are willing to set up factories in India. Similarly, India would be happy to welcome firms from Europe and the US who want to move out of other countries and set up manufacturing bases in India, Prabhu said.

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“We will be very happy to give them special status in India,” he added. The comments follow several steps taken during 2018 to further liberalise norms and improve business climate in India to attract greater FDI. In the World bank’s doing business report, India’s rank has improved to 77th from 130th earlier.

Earlier this year in January, the government permitted foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent in debt-ridden Air India, and eased norms for investment in single brand retail, construction and power exchanges. Norms were also relaxed for medical devices and audit firms associated with companies receiving overseas funds.
The government permitted 100 per cent FDI under the automatic route for single brand retail trading and also in power exchanges that provide an online platform for trading in electricity.

This was the second major liberalisation in FDI policy by the NDA government after major changes effected in June 2016. Total FDI in India, including re-invested earnings, rose to USD 61.96 billion in 2017-18, from USD 60.22 billion in 2016-17.

In April-June period of the current fiscal 2018-19, the country has attracted USD 16.86 billion of foreign investments. Experts, however, said the government needs to focus on areas like infrastructure modernisation and easing of procedures to attract global investors.

“Globally also, FDI inflows have cooled down. India needs to take steps in areas like infrastructure and procedural easing to further attract investments,” Professor Biswajit Dhar of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) said.

India mainly attracts investments from countries like Mauritius, Singapore, Japan, UK, the Netherlands, the US, Germany, Cyprus, France, and UAE. The sectors that received maximum FDI during 2018 include services, computer hardware and software, construction development, trading, automobile, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and power.

To attract overseas companies, several states such as Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are also organising investors’ meet for their respective states. The commerce and industry ministry has also started ranking of states on their ease of doing business. In the last report, Andhra Pradesh topped the chart among all the states and union territories.

The ministry has now decided to help the states undertake a similar exercise for their respective districts.

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