UK India Business Council and GoI reinstate commitment towards common goal of ease of doing business

By Kealan Finnegan

The UK India Business Council (UKIBC) has launched its 8th annual Doing Business in India report following a positive meeting between UKIBC and Government of India officials to discuss deepening our collaboration to support existing investors and encourage the entry of new businesses to contribute to India’s growth story.

The report’s findings were shared with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, the Government department primarily responsible for driving the ease of doing business agenda, and with the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, which is responsible for supporting investors in Maharashtra. In both meetings, the UKIBC committed to continuing to provide constructive feedback on behalf of business to enable productive business to government engagement with the shared ambition of further improving the ease of doing business.

For the 8th year in a row, UK businesses were clear that it is getting easier to do business in India, with 61% of respondents expressing this positive view. The investors were also strongly in favour of Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India), with 67% believing that it will lead to greater opportunities and contribute positively to India’s growth.

UK investors are also positive about the India-UK FTA that is currently being negotiated. They see ease of doing business improvements and the FTA as equally important, and complementary processes that will bring great benefits to both countries.

When it comes to easing business processes, 56% of the 111 respondents highlighted ‘legal and regulatory impediments’ as among the key areas to improve. Specifically, ‘goods and services tax’ processes, ‘import tariff barriers’, and ‘export-import laws and regulations’ were the most stressed legal and regulatory barriers that if reduced would help businesses to expand their investments.

Other priority areas highlighted by UK investors were ‘improving turnaround time of approvals and bureaucratic processes’ – chosen by 54 percent of respondents. ‘Simplification of the GST processes’ and ‘increasing regulatory certainty’ were also frequently desired reforms.

Respondents also highlighted elements of India’s operating environment that they regard as strong – ‘telecommunication facilities’, ‘availability of skilled labour’ and ‘availability of supply chain’ are all well-regarded by the UK businesses.

The UK investors also shared feedback specific to all States and Union Territories. Maharashtra was the highest rated state in terms of the operating environment, followed by Gujarat, Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.

UKIBC CEO, Richard McCallum said, “India has made huge progress on the ease of doing business in recent years under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and reform-minded State Governments, making India a stronger economy and a more attractive destination for foreign investment. There has been great success. India has been one of the world’s fastest growing major economies since PM Modi was elected Prime Minister in 2014 and international businesses are playing an increasing part in the growth story. We at the UKIBC are delighted to offer our continued partnership to the Government of India and across states, to ensure that this story is an increasingly positive one.”

While in Delhi and Mumbai to release the report and meet with State and Government of India officials, UKIBC Managing Director, Kevin McCole, said: “It is absolutely no surprise to see that, yet again, the majority of UK investors state that it is getting easier to do business in India. This, no doubt, is down to the continued constructive approach taken by the Government of India and their collaboration with businesses.  It’s really important that this government-business dialogue on the ease of doing business continues alongside the FTA talks, which we hope will include the additional investor protections that will make India an even more compelling investment destination in an increasingly competitive environment, with countries across Asia and, indeed, the world, doing everything they can to attract job creating investments.”

The full report is available via the UKIBC website:

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