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ECONOMIC COOPERATION


INDIA – ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

India offers today a market of significant potential, perhaps unique in the global scenario for the vast range of entry strategies that it offers, though still highly complex. India’s economic growth rate is among the highest globally, notwithstanding the slowdown experienced in the last couple of years.

In the past decade the country has gone through a phase of accelerated growth, becoming, according to the International Monetary Fund , the tenth-largest economy in nominal terms. After the international crisis of 2009 and a rapid return to pre-crisis trend (around 9% in fiscal 2010/marzo April 2011), the growth of the Indian economy shrunk  to 6.7 % in 2011/2012 and 4.5% in 2012 /2013. The forecast for the fiscal year April 2013 / March 2014 is in the order of 5%, a level that is considered under par vis-à-vis demographic dynamics.


 
The macroeconomic environment presents several critical issues, in particular the problem of so-called "twin debts", i.e. tax and current account. Consumer price inflation continues to remain above danger levels (around 9%), mainly due to significant supply bottlenecks . Indian economy has also suffered from a reduction in FDI flows, in part because of its complex business environment characterized by a certain bureaucratic and administrative "red tape". Positive elements include recent gradual recovery in exports, helped by the depreciation of the rupee (which during the summer of 2013 had reached an all-time low against the dollar ), gradual contraction of current account deficit, the setting-up of  a Cabinet Committee on Investments ( CCI ) to speed up the approval of the mega-investment, the start of financial sector reforms by the new RBI Governor Rajan. Observers agree that  for India to return to pre-crisis growth rates, it would have to adopt a robust and consistent programme of economic reforms, in order to complete the liberalization process initiated in the 90s.

The economic reforms initiated in September 2012 – addressing sectors such as large-scale distribution, banking, civil aviation, energy prices, broadcasting – and particularly the ‘governance reform process’ aimed at reducing red tape and simplifying approval procedures for large investments, should lead in the medium term to a new phase of sustained growth. The IMF World Economic Outlook of January 2014 estimates a GDP growth for India of 6.4% in 2015. 

According to the goal set by the Indian Government for 2025, the share of GDP growth contributed by the manufacturing sector will rise from 15% to 25%, creating at the same time 100 million new jobs. India has also launched in recent years a series of industrial plans aimed at filling the gaps existing in the sectors of energy and infrastructure. Major plans include a Solar Mission and a Wind Mission in renewable energy, while infrastructure upgrade will require an estimated investment of 1000 billion $ for the same period 2012-2017. Most of these fund will be mobilized through Public-Private-Partnerships. Other highly strategic sectors that are of interest to Italian companies seeking overseas opportunities, are mechanics and mechatronics, the automobile segment (small cars and components) and food technology, specifically food conservation and processing.


BILATERAL ECONOMIC RELATIONS

A. BILATERAL TRADE

In the 20 years between 1991 and 2011, bilateral trade grew by 12 times, from 708 million to  8.5 billion EUR. Beginning in 2012 however, a downward trend began, which led to bilateral trade decline:  7.1 billion € in 2012 (-16.6%) and € 6.95 billion in 2013 (source: Eurostat).

In 2013, therefore, bilateral trade decreased by 2% compared to the previous year. This decrease is in line with the overall trend in India-EU trade which  contracted by 4.3%, at € 72.7 billion. Trade declined for all India’s major European partners with the exception of  United Kingdom. Overall, Italy is India’s fourth largest trading partner among the EU countries (after Germany, the UK and Belgium, followed by France and the Netherlands), with a market share of about 9% of total EU-India trade .
Our exports to India in 2013 fell by 11.1%, while there was a gradual resumption of imports from India, which ended the year with +6%, partly as a result of the depreciation of the rupee immediately. Therefore our trade deficit with India grew to about 1 billion Euro.
Machinery and equipment continue to be the first item in Italian exports to India, with a share of around 40%. Over a quarter of Italian imports from India are covered under the categories Textile, clothing and leather accessories.

A National Export Plan prepared in January 2013 by ICE - the Agency for Promotion of trade and internationalization of Italian companies - forecasts that in the coming years Asia will be the main engine, if not the only one, of world trade. Italy accounts today for only 1% of total imports from Asia and just a little below 1% from India. Conversely, India’s share of Italian trade is placed just around 1.5%. These data highlight the quantum of untapped potential. See here for the details.

B. FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT FLOWS

As per Eurostat sources, Italian companies have invested in India € 694 million in 2011, and more than 1 billion euros in 2012 (+59%).
As of December 2012, Italy had in India a stock of accumulated investment of € 3.75 billion, or 9% of the total European FDI in India (third after Germany and the UK, among EU countries).
In terms of  "inward flow", the stock of Indian investment in the EU has been growing steadily over the past few years, rising from €584  million in 2004 to € 10 billion in 2011. The Italian share of the total stock of Indian investments in EU was 2.3% (approximately € 240 million), after UK, Germany and France. The year 2012 on the other hand was a bad year for Indian investments in the EU, according to the latest Eurostat data.

Overall, these figures are still relatively small in terms of absolute values??, but are surely destined to grow, considering the propensity of large Indian conglomerates to seek investment opportunities or acquisitions outside their national borders.

C. PRESENCE OF ITALIAN COMPANIES IN INDIA

We can estimate a total number of about 400 Italian legal entities and establishments in India, which can be grouped under three main categories: wholly owned Subsidiaries, Joint Ventures (preferred solution for SMEs and a must in sectors which still have FDI ceilings) and commercial Representative offices .

Location-wise, Italian companies in India are concentrated in the industrial hubs of Delhi-Gurgaon-Noida (the so called Capital Belt) and Mumbai-Pune. The third and fourth preferred locations are Chennai, capital of the Tamil Nadu State, and Bangalore, capital of the Karnataka State. Significantly lower is the Italian presence in the city of Kolkata and surrounding areas. The State of Gujarat, thanks to its infrastructure and  investment-friendly policy, has become an important centre of attraction for both domestic and foreign productive investment. The State of Rajasthan is also becoming an interesting investment destination that has already attracted a few Italian establishments.

Although brands such as Fiat and Piaggio have a much older history in India, the first actual “wave” of Italian investments into the Indian market can be traced back to the 90s, as a direct result of the measures of economic liberalization implemented by the Government of India in that period. Since then, Italian companies have continued to demonstrate their interest in the Indian market, even though their presence is still below potential.

A list of the major Italian groups in India would include Fiat (comprising  Fiat auto, New Holland and Magneti Marelli ), Carraro, Male Gaspardo, Piaggio, Prysmian , Maire Tecnimont, Techint, Luxottica, Danieli, Ansaldo Energia, Snamprogetti / Saipem, Oerlikon Graziano, Brembo, StMicroelectronis, Salini Impregilo, CMC di Ravenna, Bonfiglioli , Mapei, Italcementi, Maccaferri , Ferrero, Trunks, Perfetti Van Melle, Tessitura Monti, Artsana / Chicco, Benetton, Gruppo Coin, etc. The presence of major Italian industrial groups certainly acts as a driving force for our small and medium enterprises. Many of those who have set foot in India belong to the  sectors of fashion, interior design and luxury goods (such as Artemide , Poltrona Frau, Natuzzi, Damiani, Ermenegildo Zegna, Armani, Cavalli, Versace, Missoni , etc.), albeit yet with limited outlet networks.
Particularly attentive to the Indian market are our companies in the defence sector such as the  Finmeccanica Group, Beretta , Elettronica, Fincantieri.
In the financial segment, in addition to Assicurazioni Generali, about a dozen Italian banks are represented in offices mainly located in the financial hub of Mumbai.

INSTITUTIONAL DIALOGUE:
INDIA-ITALY JOINT COMMISSION ON ECONOMIC COOPERATION


The Bilateral institutional dialogue on issues of economic interest is held regularly in the framework of the India-Italy Joint Economic Commission, co-chaired by the respective Ministers of Commerce and Industry. The 18th session was held at New Delhi on December 14, 2009 . It is a wide-range tool to address issues and develop modalities of bilateral cooperation in a vast array of subjects, ranging from trade promotion to industrial cooperation in various sectors (tourism, infrastructure, civil aviation, agriculture, design, textiles to name a few), protection of industrial property rights, financial cooperation and business visas.