‘Singapore is the top destination for outbound investments from India’

When the government is desperately trying to woo foreign investment to partially arrest the current account deficit (CAD), several Asian countries, including Singapore, Oman, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, are lobbying to attract investment from Indian companies.

Even European countries are eying foreign direct investment (FDI) from India.

Cashing in on the procedural hurdles and lack of business-friendly environment here, these countries lure Indian businessmen with incentives, large market access and superior work atmosphere.

Singapore is making an aggressive bid to attract Indian companies to invest.

“We see a lot of growth potential as Indian companies internationalise. Singapore is the top destination for outbound investments from India. Today, more than 5,000 Indian companies are present in Singapore,” Lee Eng Keat, International Director, Asia Pacific, Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), said.

On the advantages for Indian companies, Mr. Keat said: “We see Singapore as a home for Indian companies’ international growth. Singapore offers a pro-business trusted environment. We are a global financial centre, and can manage Indian companies’ international financing requirements. Our strong air and sea links, extensive network of double taxation avoidance agreements, and free trade agreements facilitate Asian companies accessing global markets and vice versa.”

Singapore is wooing infocom, media, consumer business, pharma as well as biotech, infrastructure and natural resources companies.

Similarly, Sohar, the Oman’s largest Free Zone, is targeting to double investments from India to $250 million in the next two years.

“India has emerged as a global economic superpower, and Indian companies are increasingly looking at supplying their products to all possible geographies. Sohar offers immediate access to the world’s major shipping lanes, helps avoid increased insurance premiums, and is an ideally located trans-shipment hub between the east and the west. Sohar is an excellent base to distribute products to nearly two billion customers,” Neelima Vyas, Chief Operating Officer, Sohar Free Zone, told The Hindu recently.

Cost benefit

She said Indian companies could have a cost benefit of 15-20 per cent if they set up base in Sohar. “We have a highly skilled and cost-competitive labour force, there is freedom to hire people from anywhere, and we also provide incentives such as 100 per cent foreign ownership and free repatriation of capital and profits to attract big investments from India,” Ms. Vyas said.

The adjoining Port of Sohar has already bagged investment from Indian companies such as Jindal Steel & Power and Larsen & Tourbo. And, the Free Zone was now inviting investment from steel, oil and gas, petrochemicals, light manufacturing, food processing, logistics, printing, industrial packaging and valve assembly companies Ms. Vyas added.

Last month, a business delegation from Bangladesh toured Indian cities wooing $2.5 billion investment in three years.

For the immediate investment proposals of worth $186 million in 23 projects, Bangladesh is providing land, gas connection, working capital, and offering to fast-track visa facilitation. As cost of production goes up here, India Inc may be tempted to look out.

More In: Industry | Business