When global retailers knocked at India’s fashion doors

Dec 30, 2015 0

By Nivedita

NEW DELHI– India’s burgeoning appetite for foreign brands attracted a string of international brands to establish their presence in the country this year. US apparel retailer GAP, Swedish multinational retail-clothing company H&M, British fashion brands TOPSHOP and TOPMAN and more, available at brick-and-mortar stores or online mediums, are already a hit.

H&M, Ambience Mall VK Opening November 7th, 2015

H&M, Ambience Mall VK Opening November 7th, 2015

The summer arrival of GAP, which has made inroads into India through a franchise agreement with textile and retail major Arvind Lifetsyle Brands Limited, was much talked about.

Spread over a 10,000 sq ft south Delhi mall, the first flagship store offers Gap for men and women, GapKids, and babyGap. The plans are big as officials hope to open about 40 stores in the next five years and Arvind Lifetsyle Brands Limited expects Rs. 1,000 crore worth of business opportunity from the venture.

“I think our clothes are perfect for Indian summer. It’s very easy to wear with a whole lot of linen feel to it,” Oliver Kaye, CEO – Gap Business, told IANS.

Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited also brought American youth brand Aéropostale to India, with a store at a south Delhi mall in November.

Swedish multinational retail clothing company H&M, which is known globally for offering fashion and quality at the best price in a sustainable way, also opened shop in the country, again at a south Delhi mall.

And then, call it the successful feedback of the first store that within a gap of a month, the brand opened its second store – its largest in the country – at another south Delhi shopping destination.

Expansion plans for the brand include another store in capital suburb Gurgaon, to be followed by outlets in Mumbai and tier-II and tier-III cities.

India is one of the most exciting markets in the world right now, with so much potential within retail, said Janne Einola, country manager, H&M Hennes & Mauritz Retail Private Limited.

“The response to H&M has been fabulous! We are happy that the Indian customers are pleased with our business concept of fashion and quality at the best price in a sustainable way.

“We see a great potential for further expansion in India, the number and time frame will be determined by real-estate opportunities and retail market development.

“Our expansion strategy is to always open at the best business location. We have proposed to invest up to euro 100 million ($110 million) in the SBRT (Single Brand Retail Trade) application,” Einola told IANS.

It was not only through offline stores that many international brands made its India entry this year as many of them chose to be part of the Rs.720 crore worth Indian fashion industry through online mediums.

Handbags from French label Anna Luchini are now available in the Indian market via e-commerce platform Fashionara.com, which has also introduced watches for women from another French label, Christian Lacroix.

Jabong, a leading fashion online retailer in India, has clearly established its dominance in bringing well-curated collections of international fashion labels such as Buggati Shoes, Tom Tailor, NEXT, Misguided, TOPSHOP, TOPMAN, et al in its portfolio this year.

Nils Chrestin, Interim CEO at Jabong and Group CFO of Global Fashion Group, feels that many international brands today are seeking an online presence to explore the diverse Indian market.

“In the last two years, Jabong has facilitated a lot of deals and, as a result, has been able to successfully build an International portfolio,” Chrestin told IANS.

Officials of TOPSHOP and TOPMAN had been eyeing India as a feasible market for quite some time before partnering with Jabong. They feel that the country’s market demonstrates great opportunity for fashion brands and the Indian customer is very fashion-savvy.

As of now, they are happy with the response from the customers.

“TOPSHOP and TOPMAN are very new to India and after an impactful launch on Jabong in September earlier this year have continued to experience high levels of traffic as well as meeting sales targets.

“Both brands are growing at a rate of 25 percent month on month and contribute substantially to Jabong’s international business portfolio. There’s a huge appetite for fashion in India which is why so many brands continue to enter the market,” the brands’ spokesperson told IANS.

Also, six leading South Korean cosmetic companies made their debut in India this year with an array of cosmetic and wellness products. The companies signed a joint venture agreement with an Indian firm for marketing their products first and will eventually make them in India under the ‘Make in India’ campaign.

The companies are PLK International, Coson Company Limited, Outin Futures Corporation, BCL Cosmetics Company Limited, Kell Cosmetics Company Limited, and Esthetic House Company.

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Indian Business Brief: Google CEO, Foreign Investments, Intel Bets on Indian Data Center

Dec 28, 2015 0

Google CEO: India Poised To Become Silicon Valley of the East
On his first visit to India after taking over as CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai met with the Indian leadership, including Prime Minister Modi. During his visit, Pichai said that India will be a larger market than the US for Google by 2016 and India is well-positioned to become the Silicon Valley of the East.

On his first visit to India after taking over as CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai met with the Indian PM Modi

On his first visit to India after taking over as CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai met with the Indian PM Modi

Boeing: India Has Strong IPR Laws
India has very strong laws on intellectual property rights (IPR) and Boeing does not see a threat of violation of these rights in the country, the U.S. aviation giant’s India counsel said. “I do not say this because India is the largest market for us outside the U.S. but because India indeed has modern IPR laws and is a signatory to most international treaties related to intellectual property rights,” said Akhil Prasad.

Foreign Investment Up by 13% to $16 Bn in the First Half of FY2016
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in India witnessed an increase of 13 percent and reached $16.6 billion during April-September of 2015 as compared to $14.7 billion in the same period last year. Top foreign investors were Singapore, at $6.7 billion, followed by Mauritius at $3.7 billion.

PwC: India Had $17.5 Billion in Private Equity Investments in 2015
Private equity investments in India hit a record high of $17.5 billion in 2015 across 685 deals, surpassing the previous high of $14.7 billion recorded in 2007, a PwC report says. The surge in PE investments this year was largely owed to the e-commerce sector, which saw deals worth $5.3 billion across 290 deals.

Intel Bets Big on Indian Data Center Business
Chip-maker Intel is betting big on its India data center business fueled by demand from tele-communications companies, e-commerce firms, government and enterprises. The company’s India data center business is set to witness a 50 percent growth in the current fiscal year. Diane M. Bryant, Senior Vice-President, Data Centre Group for Intel Corporation, said: “India as a marketplace is a big growth opportunity for our data centre business.”

Govt. Introduces New Bankruptcy Bill to Ease Doing Business
Seeking to improve the ease of doing business, the Government has introduced a new bankruptcy code that provides for resolution of insolvency in a timely manner. The bill aims at promoting investments, leading to higher economic growth.

Tax Board Takes Steps for Reducing Tax Litigation
The Central Board of Direct Taxes has revised the monetary limits for filing of appeals by the Department with the objective of reducing litigation as a part of its initiatives to reduce grievances of taxpayers. The revised limits have been made applicable retrospectively to pending appeals also.

Expat Employees of Multinationals Working in India Get Tax Break
Payments to expats working in India for local arms of multinational corporations (MNC) by the foreign parent won’t attract service tax,the Authority for Advance Ruling has said.The decision is significant as it brings some relief to MNCs that have been served with notices in similar cases.

Reserve Bank Will Tweak Strategic Debt Restructuring Rules
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will tweak the strategic debt restructuring (SDR) rules on the basis on feedback from banks taking into account their experience in dealing with errant borrowers in the past six months, RBI’s Deputy Governor R. Gandhi said. SDR allows banks to convert their loans into equity giving them more control in recovering bad loans by fastening the sale of assets.

Moody’s: New Reserve Bank Rule for Rate Calculation is Positive
The Reserve Bank of India’s new uniform methodology for calculating the base rate on the marginal cost of funds is “credit positive” for Indian banks as it would ease pressure on their balance sheet, Moody’s said.

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2015 in Review: Start-ups, Digital India dominated IT growth

Dec 27, 2015 0

By Fakir Balaji & Sharon Thambala

BENGALURU– Even as disruptive technologies rolled out game-changing products and software majors vied for more outsourcing, the start-up revolution and the government’s Digital India initiative dominated the Indian IT industry landscape in 2015.

The software services and product-driven industry have been on track this year to register again a double digit (12-14 percent) growth in fiscal 2015-16. But the surge in start-ups and the Digital India plan have redefined the rules of the game,” industry body Nasscom president R. Chandrashekhar told IANS here.

Nasscom president R. Chandrashekhar

Nasscom president R. Chandrashekhar

If convergence of information and communication technologies (ICT) spawned new platforms for vendors to offer more products and cloud-based services, techno-geeks and young entrepreneurs joined the party by developing a host of applications (apps) for enterprises and diverse industry verticals.

The National Association of Software Services and Companies (Nasscom) had initiated an ambitious programme in 2013 to incubate about 10,000 domain-specific start-ups across the country by 2020 for rolling out software products, solutions and apps for individual and enterprise users in India and the world over.

With Bengaluru emerging again as the country’s start-up capital, thanks to the ecosystem this tech hub had built over the years, the tech-savvy Karnataka government has declared a start-up policy and set up two warehouses in the city in partnership with Nasscom to promote and incubate hundreds of them.

“If the Digital India initiative takes off, the start-up ecosystem will thrive with over 100,000 new-age firms in the next 10 years, employing 3.5 million people and targeting a value of $500 billion,” former Infosys director and Manipal Global Education Services chairman T.V. Mohandas Pai told IANS.

Though Pai believes that only 10 percent of the start-ups would succeed, indicating a very high failure rate, they will be a major source of job creation, investments and new apps.

“The government has a key role in facilitating growth of start-ups and in making them open, operate and shut down in case of failure, as many of them fail as elsewhere in the world,” Chandrashekhar observed.

According to Nasscom, about 18,000 start-ups, with a combined valuation of $75 billion, employ around 300,000 across the country.

“The ecosystem has the potential to grow by 10-fold in the next 10 years, with the valuation going up to $500 billion,” Pai noted.

“Digital India will not only benefit traditional and established players but also thousands of new-age firms, especially start-ups across the country, as the ambitious programme envisages a whopping Rs.4.5 lakh crore ($68 billion) investments over the next decade,” Chandrashekhar asserted.

As ICT became pervasive, connecting devices and people, industry players have invested substantially during the year on developing new platforms and hiring more techies to serve their clients worldwide and in India.

“We also see a huge potential for our industry from the government’s Make in India programme, as manufacturing of industrial, consumer and electronics goods will require ICT solutions to operate and deliver them,” said Krishna Prasad, an independent software developer for vendors.

On the software services front, IT bellwethers Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Cognizant, Infosys, Wipro and HCL were able to grow their revenue by 5-10 percent year-on-year despite the global technology spend declining in 2015.

“We expect the industry to add $20 billion in FY 2016 to the overall revenues of $146 billion in FY 2015, as the industry’s performance has been in line with the expectations we had set at our strategic review,” Chandrashekhar said.

According to a Nasscom projection, IT exports will grow 12-14 percent to reach $110-112 billion and the domestic market by 15-17 percent to touch $55-57 billion by March 31, 2016.

Currency volatility, however, impacted the operating margins of exporting firms, including the global software majors.

“The export growth rate continues in double-digits as in 2014, though firms are under pressure to deliver more value in terms of business and transformation,” Chandrashekhar affirmed.

On the outlook for the industry in 2016, the former telecom secretary-turned industry representative said the projection for 2016-17 would be revealed in February and the growth would be on track as in 2015.


* Start-ups and Digital India dominated IT industry landscape

* Software services and exports to post 12-14 percent growth

* Geeks develop new applications for internet users & verticals

* Nasscom to incubate 10,000 starts-ups by 2020

* Karnataka declares start-up policy, sets up two warehouses

* Digital India will trigger start-up boom and create jobs

* Start-ups are risk prone and many are bound to fail

* Digital India to benefit traditional and new-age companies

* IT bellwethers spur export growth despite cuts in tech spend

* Currency volatility impacts operating margins of export firms

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2015 in Review: Year India became fastest growing big economy

Dec 24, 2015 0

By Biswajit Choudhury

NEW DELHI– Notwithstanding a sharp cut in the government’s growth forecast at the fag end, 2015 will go down as the year when India emerged as the fastest-growing large economy, despite setbacks such as 12 months of negative export growth, another bad monsoon and roadblocks to the far-reaching goods and services tax regime.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

In addition to growth, the economy also saw some positives. Global crude oil prices fell to the lowest levels in over a decade, checking the balance of payments from going awry, inflation rate remained more-or-less under control, despite spikes in food prices, and economic reforms got a big push, notably in the form of further opening up of a host of industries to foreign equity.

India’s real GDP in the first half of the current fiscal grew at 7.2 percent as per official data, which was slightly lower in comparison to the GDP growth of 7.5 percent in the previous fiscal.

India’s external position improved at the same time. Forex reserves are a little above $350 billion in November 2015 as compared to a little over $270 billion in July 2013. Net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows have increased to $17 billion in the first half of 2015-16 in comparison to $15.8 in the same period last year. The second quarter’s current account deficit logged at a level of 1.6 percent of GDP.

However, the global slowdown continued to weigh on exports, which have declined for 12 straight months. The government said this was also pulling down growth but felt the situation would improve in the coming months.

On the fall in the value of the Indian rupee, the finance ministry’s mid-term economic review attributed it considerably to the major devaluation of the Chinese yuan.

The changes overall, however, led many global institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank and some UN institutions to upgrade India’s growth forecast to some 7.5-8 percent, calling it the fastest expanding globally, surpassing China.

The year also began with India’s changing the way it calculated its gross domestic product under a new series, though the controversy over the changed methodology employed refuses to die down with economists even terming it obscure.

Changing the base year to 2011-12 from 2004-05 in January, the Central Statistics Office said India’s real GDP, that is adjusted for inflation, grew by seven percent in the first quarter of this fiscal, slower than the 7.5 percent expansion in the quarter before — but much higher than 6.7 percent registered in the first quarter of the last fiscal.

Arun Kumar, till recently a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University here, told IANS that in view of negligible industrial growth, drought-like conditions in past years and no substantial increase in profits and wages, the new numbers fall flat from the point of credibility.

“Even input costs, that are now low with falling oil prices, were not low in the period 2011-12. Let the statistics office show the growth figures for up to 10 years prior to the base year for us to consider the new series seriously,” Kumar said.

The mid year review released this month lowered the economic growth forecast for the current fiscal to the 7-7.5 percent range, from the previously projected 8.1-8.5 percent, mainly because of lower agricultural output due to deficit rainfall. It also said there may be a need to reconsider next year’s fiscal deficit target of 3.5 percent.

“GDP growth has been powered only by private consumption and public investment is a concern. The proposed wage hike for government workers may impact plan for next fiscal.” The economy continues to send “mixed signals” over growth, while all economic indicators were not yet aligned in pointing to a higher trajectory of growth, it said.

India’s eight core industries, representing major infrastructure sectors, grew at 2.3 percent in the April-September period of the current fiscal, compared to a rate of 5.3 percent in the same period of the previous fiscal — the fall in growth rate caused by lower expansion in electricity, coal and cement sectors and negative growth in steel and natural gas sectors.

Jaitley’s first full union budget also announced an agreement earlier in the year with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that it constitute a Monetary Policy Committee to determine by majority vote on the policy rate required to achieve the inflation target.

Meanwhile, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan cut the interest rate in January for the first time in nearly two years and followed up with two other reductions to bring down the central bank lending rate to 6.75 percent.

Politics intervened during the year to prevent the enactment of India’s most important reform of its indirect tax regime by way of the pan-India Goods and Services Tax (GST) that the government has targeted for implementing from April next year, because the ruling NDA does not have the numbers to pass the constitution amendment bill in the upper house.


* Real GDP in first half of fiscal grew at 7.2 percent
* India emerges as fastest-growing large economy
* Forex reserves of over $352 billion as on the first week of December.
* FDI inflows increased to $17 billion in the first half of 2015-16
* Indian basket of crude oils fell below $40 a barrel
* Foreign investment limits raised in defence, real estate and insurance, foreign equity in railways
* Retail and wholesale inflation rates rose in November to 5.41 percent and (-)1.9 percent respectively, largely due to an increase in food prices
* Infrastructure sectors grew at 2.3 percent in the first half of fiscal
* Government lowers GDP growth estimate for fiscal by one percent to 7-7.5 percent

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Starvation, water scarcity have hit Bengal tea garden workers

Dec 21, 2015 0

KOLKATA– Scarcity of water and food are the major concerns for tea gardens workers in northern West Bengal, where work has been suspended and deaths are frequent, a report by a group of civil society organisations said here on Monday.

Tea bagan in IndiaDeaths in the region’s tea gardens have made headlines this year, even as a minister claimed not a single death due to starvation has taken place there.

In the wake of reports of deaths, an umbrella group of organisations like G-NESEP, NAPM, MASUM, ActionAid, DISHA and also comprising academicians, human rights activists and doctors, visited the gardens on November 24 and November 25, and released the findings here on Monday.

The right to food of workers in the Bagracote (Jalpaiguri district) and Dumchipara (Alipurduar district) gardens, owned by a particular company, was being “completely violated”, according to the report which highlights the “deprivation of basic human rights and living with dignity”.

The report said “most of the tea gardens owned by this company are under complete work suspension since 10 to 12 months, but have not been officially declared as closed”.

It further revealed that “permanent workers, who are to receive Rs.1,500 per month as employees of closed tea gardens under the FAWLOI (Financial Assistance to the Workers of Locked-Out Industrial Units) are being deprived of that minimum benefit”.

In Dumchipara, after the closure of the food distribution system, the families have been brought under the Antyoday Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme but the amount of food grains reaching them is less than half of what they should be getting, the findings show.

“Prolonged starvation has caused malnutrition, frail health and abnormal losing of body weight. A considerable number of people are suffering from lack of appetite, vomiting, swelling kwashiorkor, jaundice, tuberculosis etc.,”

The report also sheds light on the provision of water.

“Since closure or work suspension, supply of water has been withdrawn in Dumchipara. In Bagracote, the workers’ families have to pay for the supply,” said Sasanka Dev, on behalf of the group.

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Small cities, e-commerce will reshape Indian FMCG sector: Report

Dec 21, 2015 0

NEW DELHI– India’s smaller towns and cities are expected to contribute more in shaping future demand for the fast moving consumer goods sector, while e-commerce companies will contribute increasingly larger share of sales for such companies, a report said on Monday.

Abheek Singhi

Abheek Singhi

“Re-Imagining FMCG in India”, a joint report by industry chamber CII and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), said growth in disposable income, increased urbanisation, and the increase in the number of nuclear households are driving growth of the Indian branded FMCG sector estimated to be currently worth around $65 billion.

“The growth opportunity is massive, yet, the shape of this opportunity would be very different in the future. We expect greater premiumization, tier 2-4 towns to be the drivers of growth,” BCG director Abheek Singhi said at the release of the report.

The report said that households with more than Rs.10 lakh annual income would account for 50 percent of the spending in the category.

“This would lead to premiumization across categories – from unbranded to branded – and ‘luxuriating’ of products,” the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said in a release here.

The report said companies will need to focus on tier 2 and 3 cities and rural regions, as their contribution will be an important source of demand for the sector as more and more consumers move from the non-branded to the branded segment.

It estimates that by 2020, more that 150 million consumers would be digitally influenced in FMCG.

“Their decision making process would be influenced by digital. These consumes would spend more than $45 billion on FMCG categories,” CII said.

“Companies would need to build capabilities in digital marketing and would also need to push for greater clarity on the role of new emerging channels like e-commerce would play for them and how should they engage with these new channels without conflicting their brick and mortar partners,” it added.

On this trend, Singhi said: “The combined effects of these demographic shifts with the emergence of new channels like e-commerce, proliferation of the internet connectivity and consumption of digital media, will reshape the FMCG sector.”

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India sees ‘minimal’ impact of US rate hike, markets upbeat

Dec 17, 2015 0

NEW DELHI– India on Thursday said the economy was resilient and well insulated to cope with any impact of the hike in US interest rates even as the key equity market indices in the country reacted positively to log the sharpest rally in over a month.

“We’ve to consider how the Fed (US Federal Reserve) is going to raise its rates, going forward,” Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, himself a former investment banker, said. “We’re very well-equipped to deal with any turmoil or volatility that may ensue as the Fed raises rates.”

Bombay Stock Exchange

Bombay Stock Exchange

Earlier, it was widely feared that any rise in the US interest rates — the first since 2006 — could trigger a flight away of investments into the global financial market to America, as it potentially makes investments there a bit more attractive.

But the Indian equity markets have taken the development positively, at least for now — a line taken by the Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, who saw “quite minimal” volatility in the Indian markets.

Even in the currency markets, not much impact was seen and some even felt the rupee could firm up.

“The rupee is likely to emerge as a gainer in near term,” said Bansi Madhavani of India Ratings and Research, adding that the Indian currency could consolidate in the 66.3-66.6 to a US dollar range as it was better placed due to its macro-fundamentals.

“As far as India is concerned, we are really well-cushioned. Inflation is coming down, fiscal deficit situation is very good, external situation is also robust. So, I think for all these reasons, impact on India would be very minimal,” Madhvani added.

The sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange closed the day’s trade up 309.41 points or 1.21 percent, and the broader Nifty of the National Stock Exchange also rallied sharply to end with a gain of 93.45 points or 1.21 percent up.

From the government, among the first to react on the US Fed decision led by chair Janet Yellen, was Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das.

“The US Fed rate hike and reference to gradualism are on expected lines,” he said, referring to a marginal hike of 25 basis points in the rates from near zero levels. “India (is) well prepared. US Fed confidence on recovery is good news for our exports, especially from IT sector.”

The US Fed move was widely expected. The rate hike, though a small one, is being seen as a sign of how much the US economy has healed since the 2007-08 financial crisis — a reason, perhaps, for the Indian equity indices to log gains for the fourth straight session.

Stakeholders and ratings agencies also echoed similar views.

“The Fed’s decision to raise the US interest rate by 0.25 points is as anticipated. We do not expect any major impact on India. Our economic fundamentals remain strong with improved growth and twin deficits largely under control,” A. Didar Singh, Ficci secretary general, said.

“The rate hike also signals a stronger US economy, which bodes well for the pick-up of demand globally and hence for Indian exports of goods and services,” Singh added.

Even credit rating agency Fitch said India was well insulated. “India is not immune to potential general emerging market jitters related to the Fed lift-off, but it is better placed than many of its peers for a number of reasons,” said Thomas Rookmaaker, director of Sovereign Ratings.

According to him, firstly India’s external balances have significantly improved since mid-2013, with foreign exchange reserves rising by some $65 billion to $353 billion as of November 2015, and the current account deficit narrowing.

Secondly, India is less dependent than several of its peers on commodity exports, and has thus not been negatively affected by the global rout in commodity prices, he added.

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Novartis opens new office complex in Hyderabad

Dec 17, 2015 0
Novartis Global Headquarters

Novartis Global Headquarters

HYDERABAD– Novartis Group on Thursday opened its new office complex Novartis Knowledge City, the largest of its five global service centres.

Telangana’s Information Technology Minister K. Tarakarama Rao inaugurated the new complex of Novartis Global Service Centers (NGSC), a nine-storied structure with a gross area of 800,000 square feet, or sufficient space to enable Novartis to absorb future growth.

The other global NGSCs are in Mexico City, Dublin, Prague, Kuala Lumpur.

With about 3,500 employees, Novartis Business Services (NBS) in Hyderabad provides services in IT, financial reporting and accounting, human resources services, procurement and product lifecycle services. Pharma development focuses on data management, statistics, regulatory affairs, pharmacovigilence and clinical trial operations.

Novartis, which started operations here in 2007, had two offices at Mindspace in the Hitec City, which have now moved to the new complex, the company said in a statement.

The company’s third location in the city – the lab facility at Genome Valley, will continue its operations at the same site.

The company expects to drive collaboration, efficiency and productivity gains by providing centralized services.

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India 97th on Forbes best countries for business list

Dec 17, 2015 0

By Arun Kumar

WASHINGTON–India has been ranked 97th, three notches below China, in Forbes annual ranking of the best countries for business with Denmark topping the list for the sixth time in ten years.

European countries represent two-thirds of the top 25 with the US sliding four spots to No. 22, continuing a six-year descent since 2009 when the US ranked second overall.

Denmark ranked in the top 20 in all but one of the 11 metrics used by Forbes to gauge the Best Countries for Business. It finished 28th for red tape.

New Zealand moved up one spot to No. 2 (it ranked first in 2012). Rounding out the top five are Norway, Ireland and Sweden.

While the US fell in Forbes ranking, the world’s next four biggest economies all improved their overall standing. Britain and Japan both moved up three spots to No. 10 and No. 23 respectively.

Germany improved two places to No. 18. China rose from No. 97 to No. 94.

India is developing into an open-market economy, yet traces of its past autarkic policies remain, Forbes said.

India’s rankings on the 11 metrics were: Trade Freedom 125, Monetary Freedom 139, Property Rights 61, Innovation 41, Technology 120, Red Tape 123, Investor Protection 8, Corruption 77, Personal Freedom 57, Tax Burden 121 and Market Performance 65.

India’s growth in 2014 fell to a decade low, as India’s economic leaders struggled to improve the country’s wide fiscal and current account deficits, the business magazine noted.

Rising macroeconomic imbalances in India, and improving economic conditions in Western countries led investors to shift capital away from India, prompting a sharp depreciation of the rupee, Forbes noted.

However, investors’ perceptions of India improved in early 2014, due to a reduction of the current account deficit and expectations of post-election economic reform, resulting in a surge of inbound capital flows and stabilization of the rupee.

The outlook for India’s long-term growth is moderately positive due to a young population and corresponding low dependency ratio, healthy savings and investment rates, and increasing integration into the global economy, Forbes said.

However, India has many challenges that it has yet to fully address, including poverty, corruption, violence and discrimination against women and girls, an inefficient power generation and distribution system and ineffective enforcement of intellectual property rights, it said.

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Fitch retains India’s rating at lowest investment grade

Dec 15, 2015 0

MUMBAI– American rating agency Fitch on Monday retained India’s sovereign rating at the lowest investment grade of “BBB-/stable”, saying the country will continue to post good growth despite subdued prospect for the Asia Pacific region in a situation of “dollar strength in the context of an expected rise in US (Federal Reserve) rates and lower commodity prices.

“India and Vietnam have favourable macroeconomic prospects, partly reflecting lower exposure to some of the negative pressures affecting the region; however, weaknesses in their public finances have deterred us from taking positive ratings action,” Fitch said in a report titled “Emerging Asia Sovereign Outlook 2016”.

“Dollar strength in the context of an expected rise in US rates, still-sluggish global trade growth and lower commodity prices pose a challenging set of circumstances for Emerging Asia in 2016 – which partly explains why the high growth rates of the mid-2000s look out of reach,” it said.

The report said the US Federal Reserve is largely expected to make its first rate hike in almost a decade during its upcoming two-day meeting beginning on Tuesday, which would act as headwinds for emerging Asian economies.

Emerging Asia’s growth in 2016 is expected to slow to 6.3 percent, from 6.5 percent, mostly due to the projected slowdown in China.

Fitch said that excluding China and India, the region is projected to expand 5.2 percent in 2016, from 5 percent, which it said would be the fastest for any emerging region.

Moreover, emerging Asian external balance sheets are generally stronger than in 1996, the year before the onset of the Asian financial crisis.

“Sovereigns are generally much less reliant on foreign currency financing, and many countries now have more flexible exchange-rate regimes in place of the more prevalent use of explicit pegs before 1997,” the report said.

Fitch said in a report last week that India’s economy will grow by 7.5 percent in the current fiscal that will stand out globally, but warned that its business environment would remain weak despite improvements.

The agency said a “BBB-” rating, the lowest in the investment grade, along with a stable outlook and a strong medium-term growth prospect and favourable external finances, will balance out with high government debt, weak structurals and a difficult, but improving, business environment.

It said while India’s sovereign ratings continued to be constrained by the limited fiscal space of the government, the 23.6-percent salary hike recommended by the 7th Pay Commission has raised doubts about the feasibility of the medium-term consolidation path.

On inflation, it said, India’s 7.9-percent average in annual price rise over the past five years was much higher than the 3.3-percent level among the peers with the same rating. But the changes in the retail inflation profile strengthened India’s sovereign credit profile.

Meanwhile, India’s annual retail and wholesale inflation rates rose considerably in November to 5.41 percent and (-)1.9 percent respectively, due largely to an increase in the prices of food items like pulses, official data showed on Monday.

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