Ever-growing UK investment in India, report finds

Britain is single largest Western investor into India as President Modi's business reforms make it easier to do business in a country with a huge domestic market, growing middle class and skilled workforce.

Market in India
An increase in investments in India has made the UK the largest single Western investor in the country, according to a report compiled by Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Grant Thornton.The report, 'India’s Sterling Assets: Britain Meets India', published on Tuesday, showed that between 2000-18, total foreign direct investment (FDI) flowing into India from all UK sources stood at an estimated $50.57 billion.

Britain is largest Western investor to India

British investment increased by $847 million between 2017-18, representing seven per cent of all FDI in India. The report said that this investment created 52,000 new private sector jobs between 2016-18, bringing the total this century to 422,524."The UK is the fourth largest investor in India and remains the largest investor into India outside of South East Asia and Africa. Whilst it is no longer the largest G20 investor in India – Japan narrowly overtook the UK – it is substantially ahead of Germany and France, who only contribute three and two per cent in FDI respectively," said the CBI."The main reasons British firms are attracted to India are the fact it is a huge and growing market with an expanding middle class, the easy availability of talented workers and the Modi government’s ease of doing business policies and reforms, such as the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax."

Economic reforms to make doing business easier have spurred FDI

Shehla Hasan, CBI India director, said, “It’s fantastic to see the economic relationship between the United Kingdom and India blossoming. Whether it’s the fact the UK is the largest western investor in India or the more than 422,000 jobs created by British business since 2000, it’s clear the economic ties between our two countries are going from strength to strength.“There’s no question that India will be a vital trading partner as the UK charts a new future outside the EU. The golden opportunities for British firms in India play to the best strengths of UK plc. – from infrastructure to healthcare to FinTech – whilst the bold economic reforms taken by Prime Minister Modi and India’s leapfrog up the ease of doing business tables make the country even more enticing to entrepreneurs and established businesses alike.“To fully capitalise on these opportunities, British firms would like to see further progress in reducing corporate tax rates, data privacy and ease of doing business indicators like enforcing contracts or registering a property. If these steps are taken, and the UK maintains an active strategy for engagement and interaction with the Indian economy at all levels, it will remain a significant partner in India's future growth story.”Vishesh C. Chandiok, CEO of Grant Thornton India, said, “As the 6th largest economy in the world and as the most improved country on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index (EODB), India is now firmly placed as a very attractive investment destination."Continued investment by British companies in India is a testimony to India’s growth as a vibrant economy. Key reforms like the Goods and Service Tax, Real Estate Act and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code have played a significant role in achieving this significant progress in the last three years.“I believe that with a continued focus on inclusive and progressive reforms, through the use of technology, India is set to leapfrog to the 3rd largest economy and Top 50 in EODB around 2025. This should open up numerous trade and investment opportunities for mid- sized businesses from Britain, which remains a massive opportunity for future growth.”

More than half of British firms are in the manufacturing sector

Crispin Simon, deputy British High Commissioner for Western India and Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for South Asia, added, “The third edition of Sterling Assets adds to the already-powerful body of evidence demonstrating that the UK-India commercial and economic partnership is strong and getting stronger.“UK companies create jobs in India – over fifty-thousand in the last eighteen months. They 'make in India', with over a third of the 400-plus companies here operating in the manufacturing sector. They bring new technologies to India, with 62 per cent of surveyed companies bringing new technologies to market here.”The report said that UK business interests in India spanned a broad spectrum, both in terms of firms – with growing numbers of start-ups and smaller businesses taking their place alongside larger companies – and sectors."More than half of British firms in India are in the services sector, and more than a third are in the manufacturing sector. The chemicals sector has received the lion’s share of British investment in India since 2000 at $12 billion, followed by drugs and pharmaceuticals at $8.8 billion and services at $7 billion," said the CBI."UK investment continues to be spread across India, with significantly more firms choosing to invest in Southern India as of late. Between August 2017 and August 2018, over two thirds of British investment (67%) went to the South India, particularly the states of Karnataka (38%) and Tamil Nadu (29%). The state of Maharashtra, with the city of Mumbai, attracted the largest share of British investment – $8.76 billion – between 2000 and 2018."