Infrastructure, defence and financial services open doors to foreign investment
27.02.2018

Infrastructure, defence and financial services open doors to foreign investment

SICF and Trilegal analyse Narendra Modi’s economic policies

In order to gain a better understanding of the economic reforms carried out by the Government of India and the opportunities they offer for Spanish companies, the Spain India Council Foundation organised, together with Indian law firm Trilegal, the breakfast meeting “Investing in India: key regulatory and legal trends”.

Kosturi Ghosh, a partner at Trilegal, outlined the characteristics of and changes to Indian laws regarding foreign investment at the meeting, which took place at Cuatrecasas’ offices in Madrid. The attendees were the firm’s partners Ignacio Buil, Fernando Bernard, Valentín García and Andrew Ward; Ricardo Losa and José Andrés Gallegos, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; Blanca Guijarro, International Project Analyst at Gas Natural Fenosa; Cristóbal Alvear, Associate Professor at Instituto de Empresa; Indra’s Head of Institutional Affairs, Íñigo de Palacio; Navantia’s Head of International Relations, Elena Silvela, and the Third Secretary of the Embassy of India to Spain, Amit Shreeansh.

The event began with a welcome address by the Foundation’s Secretary General, Alonso Dezcallar, who described this breakfast meeting as “an example of the kind of activities we wish to host: activities that will allow us to build bridges and create opportunities” between the two countries.

Alonso Dezcallar emphasised the visit to Spain by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, as “an important milestone” for bilateral relations between the countries, which have been in place for 60 years in 2017, and stated that “the opportunities for a mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries are huge.”

During her address, which included a rundown of the actions taken by the Government of India and their impact, Kosturi Ghosh identified the most appealing sectors for foreign investment in the country following the latest steps towards liberalisation. One of the recently reformed sectors, single-brand retail, could benefit Spanish companies like Inditex and Mango, which started operating in the country some time ago.

Other industries that have been opened up to foreign investment are construction, defence (modernising the Army is a priority for India) and civil aviation. The latter is, according to Kosturi Ghosh, “one of the areas that best reflects India’s growth in recent decades”. The Government plans to build new airports and improve air connections. Despite not being 100% open to foreign investment, the market is open enough to be attractive to investors, Ghosh explained.

There are quite a few Spanish companies operating in the energy sector already, and this number will continue to grow in the future given that the signing of the Paris Agreement, according to Kosturi Ghosh, “entails a massive change for a country which has historically been coal-oriented.” Ghosh highlighted the energy projects underway in the country, especially by Spanish companies, which “have taken the market to another level.” The development of the Indian energy market was actually the main theme of the II Spain-India Forum hosted by the Foundation in November 2017.

Lastly, the lawyer emphasised the opportunities offered by the pharmaceutical sector and financial services, especially in the field of fintech and digitalisation, given that India is the second fastest country in the world to adopt financial technology (fintech) and the sector is fully open to international investment.

These measures – in addition to government initiatives to facilitate business development, simplify the regulatory framework and protect investment – have created an investor-friendly ecosystem and generated an array of opportunities for Spanish companies.

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