The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (“DPIIT”) released a new standard operating procedure for processing foreign direct investment (“FDI”) proposals on August 17, 2023 (“New SOP”). It replaced the erstwhile standard operating procedure dated November 9, 2020 (“Erstwhile SOP”), which covered the manner in which FDI proposals that required government approval under the Consolidated FDI Policy 2020 (“FDI Policy”) and the Foreign Exchange Management (Non-Debt Instruments) Rules, 2019, were being processed.Continue Reading New Norms For Processing FDI Proposals
Ministry of Heavy Industries (“MHI”) notified the Product Linked Incentive (“PLI”) Scheme for Automobile and Auto Component Industry (“PLI Auto Scheme”) in September 23, 2021 with the intent of enhancing India’s manufacturing capabilities for advanced automotive products. The applicant company qualifying the eligibility criteria (inter alia, revenue and investment) provided in the PLI Auto Scheme can receive the benefits under the same. The scheme provides for financial incentives to boost domestic manufacturing and attract investments in automotive manufacturing value chain and its primary objectives include, inter alia, overcoming cost disabilities and building robust supply chain in areas of advanced automotive technology products.Continue Reading Zooming into Sustainable Growth – An Analysis of the PLI Scheme for Automobiles and Auto Component Industry
Employee stock options (“ESOPs”) have been used as an effective retention tool globally. Cross-border ESOP structures can be considered by a variety of global businesses with existing Indian presence and by investors that propose to set up greenfield presence or acquire operating businesses in India. Moreover, Indian companies can also issue ESOPs to employees of their foreign holding, subsidiary or joint venture companies. This article discusses various cross-border ESOP structures and identifies key considerations arising under Indian corporate, foreign exchange and taxation laws.
Continue Reading Cross-border ESOP Structures
The Government of India recently issued a clarification on FDI in digital media sector. The pre-cursor to this clarification is Press Note 4 of 2019 (“Press Note 4”) that allowed up to 26% FDI in entities engaged in uploading/ streaming of news and current affairs through digital media platforms under the Government approval route, similar to the print media sector. We have analysed the implications of the recent clarifications on entities that are engaged in the digital media sector.
Press Note 4 did not provide a definition of “Digital Media” and accordingly there were concerns regarding entities that fall within its ambit. The Government of India therefore issued the “Clarification on FDI Policy for uploading/streaming of news and current affairs through Digital Media” on October 16, 2020 (“Clarification”). The Clarification inter alia provides that Press Note 4 shall apply to the following types of entities registered or located in India:
Continue Reading FDI IN DIGITAL MEDIA: A CASE FOR FURTHER CLARIFICATION
The pharma sector has gained renewed global attention due to the crisis brought about by COVID-19, a pandemic having an unprecedented impact on health and wellbeing of citizens across geographical boundaries. It is estimated that around 76 pharma companies across the world are in a race to develop and mass-produce an effective vaccine in the fight against COVID-19. Indian pharma companies too are playing a vital role in this search. The Indian pharmaceutical industry has responded to the rapid challenges arising from disruption in supply chains and is working in an integrated manner to drive local expertise by production and export of essential formulation to countries across the globe, and live up to its title as the ‘Pharmacy of the World’.
Continue Reading FDI in Brownfield Pharma – Will COVID-19 be the Catalyst for Policy Reforms?
The Indian government has been striving to effectively regulate India’s e-commerce retail market, since its first attempt in 2000. The regulations have been a by-product of the fear of organised global retail with deep pockets adversely affecting scores of unorganised “mom-and-pop shops” and retailers. The Indian foreign direct investment policy on e-commerce retail has been amended several times, and the e-commerce business houses operating in India have restructured themselves to fall in line with every such change in policy without significantly altering their operations.
In the latest episode of this ongoing saga, the Government of India issued a Press Note No. 2 (2018 Series) on December 28, 2018, to effectively legislate against e-commerce entities that disguise their inventory-based business models as marketplaces. Reportedly, Walmart-backed Flipkart and Amazon India are undergoing complex structuring and restructuring to align themselves with the amended policy. This to and fro between the Government and e-commerce players has not only been unproductive for the country’s economy, but is also against this Government’s stated objective of certainty and Ease of Doing Business in India. While the effective implementation of the regulations governing e-commerce retail continues to be a significant issue, there are certain other fundamental concerns relating to the approach of the Indian government towards e-commerce retail, which require immediate consideration.
Continue Reading India’s Foreign Investment Policy on E-commerce Retail: Is the time ripe for a reworking?
Most sectors of the economy have been completely liberalised for foreign direct investment (FDI) and the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) was abolished in June 2017. Policy watchers in this space were, therefore, taken unawares by a cryptic announcement by the Ministry of Finance on 16 April, 2018, on the “Minimum capital requirements for ‘other financial service’ activities which are unregulated by any financial sector regulator and FDI is allowed under government route”.
Why the Press Release
To put it in perspective, this announcement has its genesis in the RBI’s FEMA Notification No. 375/2016-RB dated September 9, 2016, which was a big ticket change, doing away with the nearly two decades old stipulation of minimum capitalisation in the NBFC sector. The playing field was thus levelled and the financial sector regulations could prevail in an ownership agnostic fashion.
The formal Press Note announcing this change in fact came subsequently (see Press Note 6 of 2016 dated October 25, 2016). FEMA 375 firmly placed all regulated financial services activities in the fold of the respective financial regulators, instead of the latter having to concern themselves with the ownership pattern of the entity.
FEMA 375, however, laid down that activities that are not regulated by any regulator, or where only part of the activity is regulated, or where there is doubt regarding regulatory oversight, approval would need to be obtained from the Government with attendant minimum capitalisation requirements as may be decided by the Government. It is not known , in the public domain, as to how many approvals in the ‘unregulated financial services’ space have actually been accorded post issuance of FEMA 375. This information would have been useful. Be that as it may, what has been set out in the press release of April 16, 2018 is perhaps the way for the future.Continue Reading FDI and Unregulated Financial Services
There have been some very wide sweeping and deep impact changes in the business and economic environment over the past few years, many of which have also had a strong social impact. While some changes could be considered political, there are many changes that have happened basically because the government of the day chose to bite the bullet. These were long overdue and just couldn’t be kicked any further down the road – to put it succinctly, “the time had come”.
India’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy, which has its genesis in the liberalisation era beginning in the early 1990s, had always been subject to periodic incremental relaxation of sectoral caps and other easing measures. However, after years of a gradualist mode, the current decade has seen more dramatic shifts in the hitherto entrenched position in respect to FDI in various sectors. The ultimate measure was of course the abolition in June 2017 of the two and half decades old Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), the inter-ministerial body that granted ‘prior government approval’ in mandated sectors.
The demise of this institution regarded as venerable by some and obstructionist by others, met as expected, with a mixed response. With nearly 95% of the FDI inflows in the country already coming in through the automatic route, the utility and need for such a body was clearly on the wane; practitioners were, however, apprehensive of the absence of the body, which had become the proverbial ‘go to place’ for clarifications and was the last port of call for policy intervention in case of need.
With the formal dissolution of the FIPB at the end of June 2017, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was put in place whereby the sectors / activities / transactions that required government approval were mandated to approach the respective administrative ministries for the same. Simultaneously, the FIPB portal was literally morphed into the Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal (FIFP), bringing with it bare essential changes to name and ownership, but virtually nothing more.Continue Reading FDI Policy – So What’s New?
On January 10, 2018, the Indian Cabinet gave its approval to a number of major amendments to the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy of India, to further liberalise and simplify the same. This is to increase the ease of doing business in the country, and continue to attract much needed foreign capital to fuel India’s growth. In this post, we examine the latest amendments and their impact on the crucial sectors involved therein.
Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT)
The latest amendment has brought sweeping changes in FDI norms for SBRT, thereby enticing significant foreign brands into India’s promising retail space.
The current FDI Policy on SBRT allows 49% FDI under the automatic route, and FDI beyond that and up to 100% through the Government approval route. Earlier, a sourcing norm was also attached to such an investment. This meant that investors were required to source 30% of the value of goods purchased for their Indian businesses through local sources. Several investors have had to spend a significant amount of time developing good local suppliers as partners and their inability to procure locally proved a major stumbling block in setting up their business in India.Continue Reading Cabinet Approves Major Changes in FDI Policy