This information is derived from the State Department's Office of Investment Affairs' Investment Climate Statement. Any questions on the ICS can be directed to
Last Published: 8/2/2017

India’s investment climate continues to send mixed signals, as the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, actively courts investment, but implementation of economic reforms to attract investors does not meet rhetoric. The economy as a whole performed well in 2016, growing over 7% with a stable rupee and political stability throughout the country. Non-performing assets continue to hold back banks’ profits and limit their lending. However, stable, relatively low inflation, weak credit demand, and strong management from India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, have mitigated the negative impact on credit. Employment, while difficult to measure given the large informal economy, appears to lag growth, while a demographic boom means India must generate over ten million new jobs every year.

India has opened foreign direct investment (FDI) by particular sector, sometimes all at once and sometimes gradually reducing the FDI limitations. In 2016 the government opened FDI in private security and approved pharmaceutical projects to 74%, and increased investment in defense to 49% under the automatic route. With government clearance, defense and pharmaceutical investments can exceed the capped limit. It also allowed 100% FDI in food products, marketplace model e-commerce, broadcasting, airports on land already zoned for that use, and air transport services. In 2016, FDI into India jumped 18% to a record $46.4 billion, though Foreign Portfolio Investments (FPI) saw a net outflow of $2 billion. Multinational companies made large investment into the electronics, solar energy, automobile, defense, and railways sectors. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his annual budget speech, formally proposed abolishing the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, which screens FDI, in an effort to ease investment.

On the legislative front, Parliament passed a constitutional amendment to replace the fractured, state-level tax code with a nationwide goods and services tax (GST). It also replaced myriad existing laws on the reorganization of companies, insolvency, and asset restructuring into one unified law via the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act. These steps should reduce the time taken to dissolve a company, and speed up the process of debt recovery for investors.

The Modi government undertook further reforms in 2016 to formalize the large informal economy, and digitize the economy. In addition to the GST overhaul, which will result in greater tax registration and digital tax reporting, the government demonetized its INR 500 and INR 1000 notes, worth 86% of the currency in circulation, causing a shock to the economy in November-December 2016. Through demonetization, the government aimed to better track undeclared earnings (known as “black money” in India) for tax purposes, and increase the usage of digital payments which lags other major emerging economies.

India announced its intention to abrogate all bilateral investment treaties (BITs) negotiated on the basis of its 1993 model BIT. Some BITs have already lapsed and the rest will do so in 2017. India intends to renegotiate them on the basis of its new December 2015 model BIT which requires that foreign investors exhaust all domestic judicial remedies for up to five years, before entering into international arbitration, unless the claim is not judicable by Indian courts. This shift is an attempt to see investment disputes are resolved in domestic courts, as India has lost a number of recent disputes in international arbitration. The United States currently does not have a BIT with India.

In 2017, the government expects to implement its GST on July 1, which will transform the tax code and could lead to significant structural changes in the economy. Investors will also monitor how the government screens FDI following the abolition of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). Investors will also pay close attention to further liberalization of FDI – the government has discussed expansions of the food and insurance investment policies, while industry awaits changes to FDI policy in multi-brand retail.

Table 1

TI Corruption Perceptions Index201679 of 175
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business2016130 of 190
Global Innovation Index201666 of 128
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)201528.335
World Bank GNI per capita2015$1600

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India Economic Development and Investment Law