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“With the liberalization of the high-growth nations, greenfield investments in the developing Asian nations witnessed over an 8 percent rise in 2016. This, coupled with a significant improvement in the economic outlook, is expected to spur the investor sentiment over the next three years,” says Arnab Nath, Economic Research Analyst at GlobalData.
An increase in globalization and urbanization is resulting in a shift from the primary (mining, quarrying and petroleum) and manufacturing industries to services in the developing Asian region. Of the total greenfield investments in 2016, 60.2 percent were in the services sector followed by manufacturing (38 percent) and the primary sector (1.8 percent). The liberalization of major economies in the region resulted in greenfield investments in the services and manufacturing sector to rise by 13.6 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively in 2016 whereas greenfield investments in the primary sector witnessed a decline of 29.3 percent during the same year due to lower global commodity prices.
India liberalizes FDI in key sectors
In early 2018, the Indian government relaxed the FDI policy for key sectors such as construction and real estate, civil aviation and retail. Foreign investments in the real estate sector were prohibited until the Government amended its FDI policy and allowed 100 percent FDI without any government approval. Goods are sold to individual customers under the same brand in single brand retail trading (SBRT), which has been revised from 49 percent to 100 percent FDI without any government approval. In the civil aviation sector, foreign airlines were not allowed to invest in the government-owned Air India until the policy was relaxed recently. As per the latest amendment, foreign airlines can invest up to 49 percent of their paid-up capital in Air India.
Complementing all these developments, India jumped 30 spots in the ‘World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business’ ranking, thereby drawing further attention for the country from foreign investors. The country’s rank among 190 countries has improved from 130th in 2017 to 100th in 2018. India’s score of 60.76 out of 100 in the doing business report is ahead of the South Asian nations average of 53.64 in 2018. A significant improvement has been witnessed in the parameters of resolving insolvencies (136th out of 190 countries in 2017 vs. 103rd in 2018), paying taxes (172nd vs. 119th), getting credit (44th vs. 29th), enforcing contracts (172nd vs. 164th), protecting minority investors (13th vs. 4th), and construction permits (185th vs. 181th).
China becomes investor friendly to tap more inflows
China has emerged as one of the top destinations for inward foreign investments over the last decade, which has played a key role in the country’s growth. In January 2017, the State Council issued a new circular to improve the business environment and boost investments in the country. The Ministry of Commerce confirmed plans to reduce restrictions on market access in the areas of manufacturing, services, mining and green industries. Under the ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative, China is encouraging foreign investment in the fields of infrastructure construction and green manufacturing. The country’s fiscal and taxation support policy makes the country more investor friendly with more authority given to China’s national-level development zones (these are special areas where foreign investment is encouraged) in investment management.
Regional economic partnership to trigger investment impetus
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which delivers a free-trade agreement among 10 ASEAN economies (Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and The Philippines), is expected to be signed this year. The agreement will provide a stimulus for investment across ASEAN countries.
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