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Foreign Direct Investment

18 April 2020   

Foreign direct investments (FDI) are investments made by one company into another located in another country.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is when a company takes controlling ownership in a business entity in another country. With FDI, foreign companies are directly involved with day-to-day operations in the other country. This means they aren’t just bringing money with them, but also knowledge, skills and technology.

Generally, FDI takes place when an investor establishes foreign business operations or acquires foreign business assets, including establishing ownership or controlling interest in a foreign company.  

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a major source of non-debt financial resource for the economic development of India. Foreign companies invest in India to take advantage of relatively lower wages, special investment privileges such as tax exemptions, etc. For a country where foreign investments are being made, it also means achieving technical know-how and generating employment.

The Indian government’s favourable policy regime and robust business environment have ensured that foreign capital keeps flowing into the country. The government has taken many initiatives in recent years such as relaxing FDI norms across sectors such as defence, PSU oil refineries, telecom, power exchanges, and stock exchanges, among others.

Foreign Direct Investments are commonly made in open economies that have skilled workforce and growth prospect. FDIs not only bring money with them but also skills, technology and knowledge.

FDI in INDIA

FDI is an important monetary source for India's economic development. Economic liberalisation started in India in the wake of the 1991 crisis and since then, FDI has steadily increased in the country. India, today is a part of top 100-club on Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) and globally ranks number 1 in the greenfield FDI ranking.

Routes through which India gets FDI

Automatic route: The non-resident or Indian company does not require prior nod of the RBI or government of India for FDI. 

Government Route: The government's approval is mandatory. The company will have to file an application through Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal, which facilitates single-window clearance. The application is then forwarded to the respective ministry, which will approve/reject the application in consultation with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce. DPIIT will issue the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for processing of applications under the existing FDI policy.

FDI prohibition

There are a few industries where FDI is strictly prohibited under any route. These industries are 

  • Atomic Energy Generation
  • Any Gambling or Betting businesses
  • Lotteries (online, private, government, etc)
  • Investment in Chit Funds
  • Nidhi Company
  • Agricultural or Plantation Activities (although there are many exceptions like horticulture, fisheries, tea plantations, Pisciculture, animal husbandry, etc)
  • Housing and Real Estate (except townships, commercial projects, etc)
  • Trading in TDR’s
  • Cigars, Cigarettes, or any related tobacco industry

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