India beckons Kiwi businesses in style

Venkat Raman

What are the existing and emerging opportunities for doing business with India?

What are the best business models for operating in India?

How easy is it today to get through government approvals for establishing partnerships, joint ventures, distribution agreements and trade contacts?

Are there restrictions and controls for repatriation of profits and capital?

These and many other questions may find answers at the ‘Business Summit 2015,’ scheduled to be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Auckland on March 13.

India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) is organising the one-day Summit hoping to bring about the right synergy and environment to achieve successful engagement of businesses between the two countries.

The Summit will be held under the theme, ‘Growing with India: Inspire, Innovate and Grow.’ The event will have two sessions with as many keynote addresses. The sessions will also include presentations by New Zealand companies followed by a Panel discussion comprising business leaders from India and New Zealand.

Foreign Investments

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been promoting the ‘Make in India’ strategy, which in effect lures foreign investors to participate in the country’s infrastructure development and other programmes with their capital and technology. India has a huge labour force (at least 400 million) that is qualified and young, and with unemployment running high (running currently at 8.8%), there is an urgent need to create jobs. Indian entrepreneurs have been investing heavily in many parts of the world (mostly in USA and Europe) but New Zealand businesses have largely remained apathetic. It is only in recent years that there has been some interest.

Inspiring Speakers

INZBC Chairman Sunil Kaushal said that the 2015 Business Summit will have a number of internationally and nationally renowned speakers but at press time confirmed only two of them, namely Nandan Nilekani and Dr Reuben Abraham.

Mr Nilekani is one of the most successful entrepreneurs and bureaucrats that India has produced in recent decades. He is credited with the success of Infosys Technologies Limited (Founder, Director and Chief Executive) and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UDAI) of which he was the Chairman. As the keynote speaker at the first session of the Summit, he will explain the ways in which New Zealand companies can take advantage of the rich potential that India offers to foreign businesses and investors.

Dr Abraham is the Chief Executive and Senior Fellow at the IDFC Institute, a think-tank established by India’s largest infrastructure finance company.

The focus of the Institute is on the political, economic and spatial causes and consequences of, and obstacles to, India’s ongoing transformation from a low-income, state-led economy to a market-based democracy.

Dr Abraham is also a non-resident scholar at the Urbanisation Project at the Stern School of Business, New York University. Previously, he was on the Faculty and Executive Director of the Centre for Emerging Market Solutions at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. He is currently on the board of the Next Generation Leaders at the School.

Interactive Sessions

The delegates attending the Summit will benefit if experts speak on the processes relating to negotiating and concluding deals with Indian companies, including manufacturers and suppliers. As well as commenting on the up-to-the-minute economic, political and demographic developments, they should ideally provide a broad view of seizing opportunities and avoiding pitfalls.

Complex business

The complexity of doing business with India is not often explored or explained to foreigners, since business practices, attitudes, customs and even laws differ between regions. Kiwi entrepreneurs are not well versed with these facts and hence many have not been successful in India.

Technology Partner

Describing the ‘Make in India’ campaign launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2014 as ‘enormous,’ Mr Kaushal said that it provides many opportunities for New Zealand companies to participate in India’s progress.

“India needs the technology and the knowhow to skill its people. These can be achieved through collaboration and coordination with businesses in New Zealand,” he said.

Appropriate qualities

According to Mr Kaushal, there is consensus that 21st Century belongs to India.

“India has the right demographics to attract significant investment and the world is standing up and walking to India’s shores. Recently President Barack Obama has pledged that his country will invest US$4 billion in India. The Japanese, the Chinese and many other countries are lining up their investments for India,” he said.

Developing Trade

Stating that political leaders in both countries were keen to develop trade and economic ties, Mr Kaushal claimed that ‘there has been a consistent rise in two-way trade. He believes that there is considerable room for dollar value of this relationship.

“New Zealand wants to look beyond dairy. We want to make use of Mr Modi’s ‘Make in India’ Campaign by sharing our technological knowhow in the areas of agriculture, cold storage and other areas. We would like to explore other areas in which we can assist India as well as our businesses,” he said.

“However, we must be proactive because of India’s size. The number of players that we are competing against is global. Everyone wants a share of the pie; however, only those who are able to build and sustain long-term relationships will have the upper hand.”

Mr Kaushal said that the Australians have demonstrated the way in which foundations are placed for long-term relationships and cited the example of the visit of Prime Minister Tony Abbott to India with a 400-strong delegation comprising officials and businesses.

“In India’s case, size does matter. A strong delegation sends the right signals,” he said.

Migrant Society

In an interview given during his tenure as UDAI Chairman, Mr Nilekani outlined the need for a centralised Identity Programme.

He said that India is fast becoming a mobile and migrant society.

“People are moving from villages to cities, from north to south, from central India to coastal India. All of them are finding that when they make that transition, they go to a new state and new city. They have to prove to the local establishment who they are; otherwise, they cannot open a bank account, they cannot get a mobile connection, they cannot get their entitlements,” he said.

Mr Nilekani said that people in India understand the need for an ID, since it would help them to again access to various benefits and reduce harassment.

“This is because, once you have an ID, people know who you are. Therefore, the idea is to link it to benefits. We have tried to create a ‘coalition of the positive,’ in the sense that many people now have a stake in the success of this project. For example, because this ID will become the platform for electronic benefit transfers through the banking system, the banking system has an interest in helping us to make this work to deliver financial benefits.  We are creating a coalition of the positive, of different kinds of stakeholders who have a stake in the success of this project.”

No deterrent

Investment advisors said that New Zealand companies are often diffident to compete with larger organisations and countries but size should not be a handicap.

“There are a number of other options; it is also important for companies to protect their investment and come to terms with the realities of the Indian market,” they said.

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What: Summit 2015

Who: India New Zealand Business Council

When: Friday, March 13

Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel

128 Albert Street, Auckland 1010

Tickets: From $290 per person

Contact: Sunil Kaushal on 021-2804189

Email: chair@inzbc.org

       

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