India’s Latest Foreign Direct Investment Rules

Francisco A. Laguna

Last month, India further relaxed its laws governing foreign direct investment in various sectors.  This article summarizes the more significant amendments to the FDI Policy.

Broadcast Carriage Services & Cable Networks

Foreign investment in Broadcast Carriage Services and Cable Networks is now permitted up to 100% under the automatic route.  Previously, FDI above 49% required Government approval. However, change of control of the Indian company will require prior approval from the Government unless the same is subject to approval by the relevant sectoral regulator.

Civil Aviation

100% FDI is now permitted in existing airports and air transport services. Government approval is required for FDI above 74% in existing airports and 49% in air transport services. There is some debate as to whether airlines operated by Indian companies which are majority foreign owned will be permitted to fly international routes, but this should be resolved in a short while.


Until now, Foreign direct investment in the defense industry has be permitted up to 49% under the automatic route and above 49% with Government approval if such higher investment was likely to result in access to technology within India. The Press Note clarifies that defense products include small arms and ammunition and confers discretion on the Government to consider any other reasons deemed relevant for granting approval for FDI above 49%. All other conditions continue as before.

Hong Kong Kinder Joy - Made in India.  By Okstartnow (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Hong Kong Kinder Joy – Made in India. By Okstartnow (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Foods “Made in India”

With government approval, 100% FDI is now permitted for companies selling food products wholly manufactured or produced in India, including sales through e-commerce.  This should allow for in-store cafés or shops in food courts and will add to the overall retail experience for Indian consumers.  Note, however, that the 100% FDI is only for foods manufactured or produced in India.  Foreign investors are hopeful that this liberalization will soon be applied to other food products.


While foreign investment in brownfield projects has been permitted up to 74% under the automatic route (it was earlier capped at 49% for the automatic route), the following new conditions are applicable to any investment in brownfield projects. These projects involve the purchase or lease by a company or government entity of existing production facilities to launch a new production activity.

  • Maintenance of production level of items falling within the National List of Essential Medicines for 5 years post investment at an absolute quantifiable level (bench marked to the highest production in the 3 financial years preceding the FDI);
  • Maintenance of R&D expenditure for 5 years post investment at an absolute quantifiable level (bench marked to the highest production in the 3 financial years preceding the FDI); and
  • Complete information on technology transfer, if any, must be provided to the relevant Ministry.

Private Security Agencies

The cap on FDI has been increased to 74%; FDI between 49% & 74% requires Government approval.

By Nazrila - Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here, Public Domain,

By Nazrila – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here, Public Domain,

Technology Products

The new rules allow the Government discretion to relax sourcing norms for single-brand retailers that sell products using “state-of-art” or “cutting-edge” technology, in cases where local sourcing is not possible (Technology Products). The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) issued Press Note 5 of 2016 Series on 24 June 2016 that states that sourcing norms will not apply for 3 years as of the commencement of business for such Technology Products. The Government’s approach of relaxing the norms, rather than providing a waiver, promotes its “Make in India” program.  It will be interesting to track whether FDI increases as a consequence of this provision, and, specifically, whether Apple and other tech companies will make FDIs in the country as a result.

All of the reforms discussed in this post are important and underline the incremental policy change which has long been hoped for. There is also a fair case to be made for the proposition that the FDI Policy is now fairly liberal and that the Government is open to considering proposals for FDI even more favorably where investment is coupled with capacity development and manufacturing.

TransLegal represents companies doing business in India in the biotechnology, foods and industrial sectors.  Call us with your questions related to doing business in India and how these new FDI rules may affect your business.


Investing in Jamaica

Francisco A. Laguna & Rolanzo White

After rebounding form the financial crisis of 2008, Jamaica is now welcoming foreign investors. The government has turned its attention to bolstering the economy and continuing impressive performance in tourism, logistics, and manufacturing.

The Jamaican Government, led by the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), is creating an environment conducive to foreign direct investment. JAMPRO is an Agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce that promotes business opportunities in export and investment to the local and international private sector. With the debt to GDP ratio declining as a result of debt restructuring and fiscal contraction (estimated 140% at the end of fiscal year 2014/15), Jamaica is ripe with opportunity.

"Karibik Jamaika Position" by Raymond de - Raimond Spekking - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Karibik Jamaika Position” by Raymond de – Raimond Spekking – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Jamaican economy is driven by foreign direct investment (FDI). Jamaica received an estimated US$ 551 million in FDI inflows for 2014. The country has a strong relationship with the United States and the United Kingdom, and the levels of FDI can be partly attributed to these relationships. The World Bank has also been extending credit and development assistance to Jamaica through several projects in various sectors.

In May 2013, the Jamaican Government implemented the Growth Agenda Reform Program, supported by a four-year loan arrangement under the International Monetary Fund’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF), which provided Jamaica with Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of US$ 932.3 million. The program’s goal is to improve the business environment and facilitate strategic investments.

The Jamaican Government has made a point to create a legal atmosphere that supports private enterprise. Jamaica has an independent judicial system that is based in English Common Law which upholds the sanctity of contracts. Jamaica gives “National Treatment” to the profits foreign investors make on the island, and they do not put limits on the foreign control of companies nor do they restrict non-residents from buying real estate. Under the Omnibus Tax Incentive Framework, all investors benefit from a non-discriminatory and consistent tax incentive regime that seeks to catalyze foreign direct investment. As a result, Jamaica has jumped 27 places to achieve an overall ranking of 58 out of 189 economies, according to the 2015 Doing Business Report: the highest ranking in the Caribbean.

The most dynamic sectors in Jamaica have been tourism, logistics, and manufacturing.


"Doctors Cave Beach" Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

“Doctors Cave Beach” Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

Jamaica received just over 2.08 million stay-over tourist arrivals in 2014, according to newly-released data from the Ministry of Tourism. That represented a 3.6 % increase over 2013, when the country topped 2 million visitors for the first time and added US$ 2 billion to the local economy. Potential investors are invited to explore the opportunities that exist for the development of boutique, large scale and city hotels. The government is also working to complete Casino Gaming and Timeshare legislation, which will add new dimensions to Jamaica’s dynamic tourism industry.


"Kingston Harbour (cmakin) 2004-09-19" by Carey Akin (cmakin) from Manvel, Texas, USA Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Kingston Harbour (cmakin) 2004-09-19” by Carey Akin (cmakin) from Manvel, Texas, USA Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Jamaica is home to the Kingston Harbor, the world’s seventh largest natural harbor. With the expansion of the Panama Canal, Jamaica is set to benefit from innovative and advanced commercial ventures in logistics. Jamaica will look to offer better logistic efficiencies to markets in the region by leveraging their existing infrastructure. The island enjoys a prime location in proximity to major East-West shipping lanes and direct connections to all regional ports, which has impressed other countries, including China. According to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, China Harbor Engineering Company Limited and its parent company will invest between US$ 1.2 and 1.5 billion in the development of a transshipment port in Jamaica.


Jamaica’s manufacturing sector is important to the national economy, accounting for 8.4 % of GDP and generating export earnings of US$ 772.5 million in 2013. The country boasts over 300 companies in the sector engaged in a varied range of manufacturing enterprise that include agro-processing, bedding, leather, stone and clay products.  Jamaica is also showing growth in mining, agriculture, and business process outsourcing (BPO).

Jamaica has shown resiliency and impressive growth to become an investor paradise. Investors may want to take a second look at the land of wood and water. They will be surprised by their economic growth.

With offices in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean, contact TransLegal to learn more about FDI in Jamaica and the region.

Ghana: A Successful Case Study on Real Property Rights

Francisco A. Laguna & Richard Shu

Property rights are recognized as a driver of economic development.  Today, we explore the evolution of property rights in the West African nation of Ghana, and how they have contributed to development.

Satellite picture of Ghana.  Incredible natural beauty! "Ghana sat". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

Satellite picture of Ghana. Incredible natural beauty!
“Ghana sat”. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

Traditionally, rural land rights in Ghana generally fell under “communal” land tenure systems. A customary authority, usually a local tribal leader, would approve or dictate all land transfers within a given region. That placed most land distribution responsibilities in a single authority.  In the late 1980s, the major agricultural regions of Ghana (the coffee growing region of Wassa in the west, and the shallot growing region of Anloga in the southeast) started moving away from these communal systems in favor of giving individuals greater control over the right to transfer their land.

The effects of Ghanaian land liberalization on farming investments resulted in more plants and better capital, and, in turn, farming output.  Findings suggest that, as individuals attained more control over their land, investment in that land increased and resulted in increased productivity and yield.  Ghana stands as a strong case for the role of legal protections in economic development—a stable government and a growing economy go hand in hand.

"2010 Farmers Day Ashanti Region Ghana 5262946799" by Trees ForTheFuture - Ghana-KITA Best Insitution Award-December-2010. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

“2010 Farmers Day Ashanti Region Ghana 5262946799” by Trees ForTheFuture – Ghana-KITA Best Insitution Award-December-2010. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

In theory, there should not be an inherent causal link between land transfer rights and greater production efficiency: the same investments could easily have been made under a communal land tenure system.  However, transfer rights make investments safer by protecting the investor from expropriation. If an agent is constantly worried about having her profits taken away, whether by a tribal authority or an autocratic government, she is much less willing to invest and develop that land simply because there is less chance that she will actually reap the benefits. By guaranteeing that profits go to the rightful owner, property rights can eliminate some of the uncertainty of investing, prompting agents to invest more.

Another important characteristic of property rights is that they allow for land to be used as collateral. For many underdeveloped nations, where resources are scarce and often inadequately tapped, land is often the most valuable asset that an ordinary person can have—and, more importantly, sell or mortgage. Land can be used as a good for trade, and it can also be used as collateral to establish lines of credit. Allowing people to control their parcels of land allows for the growth of finance, which, in turn, allows for investments in capital that increases production.

"Volta Lake from the Saint Barbara Church" by © Sandister Tei ( / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons

“Volta Lake from the Saint Barbara Church” by © Sandister Tei ( / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons

But none of this is possible without a functioning legal system in which those property rights are protected and enforced. A deed means nothing without a court to recognize that deed. And here is where most of the troubles lie. Ghana’s economic prospects began to improve only as the government started working more adequately for the people.  Ghana, and other underdeveloped regions, still have a long way to go in that regard. The governments of developing nations are beset with their own unique problems. Warfare, corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency all hamper a government’s ability to function, while some governments are more focused on maintaining power and military dominance than serving its people.

A properly enforced system of property rights depends on a stable foundation of governance, dedicated to protecting individual rights. The construction of a stable legal foundation, then, cannot be ignored when discussing economic development. In nations without prudent governance and well-protected property rights, the law plays an essential role in protecting profits, incentivizing investments and cultivating growth.

Ghana has made great strides in both areas, and it should be applauded.

TransLegal has offices in Accra, and we are available to answer questions related to agricultural and other investments in Ghana.

Australia and the Great Economic Powers: India

Francisco A. Laguna & Jennie Linder Cunningham

This week we conclude our series on Australia, focusing on the country’s trade relations with India.

Maps of Australia and India  Photo Credit:

Maps of Australia and India
Photo Credit:

Trade between Australia and India has increased rapidly over the past decade.  It may prove to become a positive alternative to China, particularly if the Australia – China Free Trade Agreement stalls. With a market nearly the size of China’s and a population and economy that is increasingly modernizing, bilateral trade between India and Australia has increased to $17.4 billion in 2012, up from just $3.3 in 2000. In discussing the trade relationship, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stresses the fact that India is the world’s largest democracy.

Continue reading

Australia and the Great Economic Powers: Japan and the United States

Francisco A. Laguna & Jennie Linder Cunningham

This week we continue our series on Australia, focusing on the country’s trade relations with Japan and the United States.


Map of Australia Photo Credit: Addicted04 via Wikimedia Commons

Map of Australia
Photo Credit: Addicted04 via Wikimedia Commons

Australia-Japan trade dates to the mid-19th century, and, with the exception of World War II, Japan has been Australia’s most significant trading partner. The first trade agreement Japan sought with Australia sought dates to 1915.  Australia primarily exports coal and iron ore/iron ore concentrates, along with copper ores and beef to Japan, while importing mainly vehicles and some refined petroleum.

As a result of the global recession, Australia’s Free Trade Agreement talks with Japan stalled; however, the current administration of Prime Minister Tony Abbott has expressed that the successful negotiation of the FTA is a high priority.  Trade experts note that one of Abbott’s two foreign affairs advisers, Andrew Shearer, is a Japan specialist who was instrumental in crafting the 2007 defense and security pact between the two countries known as the Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation (JDSC).

 Japan has also expressed a renewed interest in concluding the FTA talks, mainly in order to get a jump on its Asian competitors, including China. In particular, the high-tech manufacturing sector has been petitioning the Japanese administration to conclude the talks, to give them the best chance of increasing market share in everything from Japanese cars to cameras and televisions. This is highly prescient and could be a matter of timing, as China moves to diversify its economy beyond low-tech manufacturing into the sectors that Japan has historically dominated.

 United States


Melbourne Photo Credit: Diliff via Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Diliff via Wikimedia Commons

Australia and the United States have long regarded each other as political and economic allies, despite the significant physical distance between the two countries. The United States has also historically been a major presence in Southeast Asia, and remains the focus of nations like Australia, South Korea, Japan, and even the Philippines, as China continues to assert a greater presence in the region and as it recently surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy.

 Through its Pivot to Asia policy, the US has indicated that it intends to increase its presence in the region. However, the US is currently in initial stages of implementing a “pivot” (from the Middle East), as it remains wary of overextension in Asia while still involved in the Middle East. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell recently stated that the countries of the Asia-Pacific recognize that the United States still had pressing situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a premature withdrawal would not be positively indicative of Washington’s commitment to the region.

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

The US is Australia’s fourth largest export market and second largest import market. Overall, it is Australia’s third largest trading partner (after China and Japan). Exports to the US account for A$14.6 billion, a 4.9% share, with imports totalling $41.6 billion, a 13% share. Two-way trade is estimated at $56.2 billion, after China with $125.2 billion and Japan with $71.1 billion. From these numbers alone, and by referencing the trade table in last week’s blog, we can determine that the US-Australia connection goes beyond the economic. A 9% trade share is not insignificant, but it pales in comparison to China’s 20.3%.

 The 2005 US-Australia Free Trade Agreement is a fairly new development, and one that bears watching. According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, the FTA established working groups in 2009 to examine several issues and potentially foster cooperation on the agricultural, sanitary, and phytosanitary fronts. Recall that food exports, agriculture, and farmland remain major hurdles to resolving the China-Australia FTA.

 TransLegal has two correspondent offices in Australia in Sydney and Perth.  We are available to answer your questions concerning doing business in the country.

Australia and the Great Economic Powers

Francisco A. Laguna & Jennie Linder Cunningham

Map of Australia

Map of Australia

To launch our 2014 blog, TransLegal is beginning a 3-week series on Australia.  Australia occupies a unique position in the international community: geographically, its location allows for immediate trading partners in Asia, particularly Southeast Asia. However, culturally, linguistically and politically, it resembles a Western capitalist democracy – to some extent.  Observers of Australia frequently note the historic and current peculiarities of the country’s politics. Of particular interest, as a new administration sets its agenda, is Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s indications that he fully intends to (finally) complete ongoing, but stalled, Free Trade Agreements with China, Japan and South Korea. These announcements met with some skepticism: negotiation of all the FTAs have dragged on for at least four years. Today, we begin our analysis of Australian relations with China, followed in the next weeks by a look at Japan, the US and India.  Continue reading

Burma (Myanmar) in a Post-Sanction Era: Sectors of Interest

Francisco A. Laguna & Jennie Linder Cunningham

After decades of isolation, Burma is beginning basic economic, industrial, legal and social developments.  The Asian Development Bank is “cautiously optimistic” about the growth and development of Burma, emphasizing the importance of lifting sanctions as the first of many steps – along with comprehensive and meaningful reforms. Growth rate potentials are estimated as high as 7-8% – but only as long as foreign direct investment (FDI) and domestic investment occur in all sectors in order to avoid the “resource curse” endemic to so many developing nations.

Downtown Yangon Photo Credit: Modulo via Wikimedia Commons

Downtown Yangon
Photo Credit: Modulo via Wikimedia Commons

The resource curse, defined as an over-reliance on one or a few key natural resources, is particularly apparent in nations with underdeveloped and / or unstable institutions and infrastructure. Burma’s economy has depended primarily on oil and gas resources, mining and lumber, all industries that have caused massive environmental degradation. These industries will continue to be major staples of the Burmese economy, but it is imperative that the economy and investments diversify beyond extractive practices if long-term change is to occur in the post-sanctions country. This will be important for investors interested in the long view and certainly for Burma itself.

Burma has a sizable, yet unskilled, workforce.  This makes investment in the manufacturing sector a challenge; however, the Burmese are eager to develop skills and are willing to work to obtain necessary training.  Another factor affecting FDI in the manufacturing sector is Burma’s power grid: it remains largely unreliable, with major business centers such as Rangoon and Mandalay receiving only around 4 – 5 hours of power per day, according to national news sources.  Generators are an option, but they require a fuel source, and depending on the size of the operation, they may be both impractical and cost-prohibitive.  Despite this issues, Belgian textiles and wood floor surfaces manufacturer Beaulieu International Group is reportedly negotiating to develop a factory in Burma.

Hand of Lord Buddha, Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon Photo Credit: YashiWong via Wikimedia Commons

Hand of Lord Buddha, Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
Photo Credit: YashiWong via Wikimedia Commons

Some initial FDI has focused on the agricultural / biotechnology sector.  In 2010, Burma ranked 14th in terms of world distribution of genetically modified (GM) crops, with 300,000 hectares being farmed with GM crops. The primary biotech crop is cotton, including insect-resistant Bt cotton, planted for the first time in 2010. These are impressive statistics, given that just under 16% of Burma’s land is considered arable, and only 2.1% is used for permanent crops.

The telecommunications and technology sectors are other areas poised for quick growth, given the proximity to China and the rest of Southeast Asia.  The market is ripe for expansion, especially because cell phone and internet use is still extremely low.  As of April 2013, only 4% of the population utilized mobile technology, and 2% had access to the internet. Again, considerable reform is needed in the legal system before the technology infrastructure can function to protect both consumers and private entities (the latter of which are still not allowed in the tech sector), but the government considers this infrastructure crucial to the new Burma and has even welcomed tech superstars like Google CEO Eric Schmidt in recent months Additionally, the government has expressed its goal of providing 3G coverage to at least half of its citizens by 2015.

Early projects in infrastructure and tourism are underway, including the HAGL Myanmar Centre in downtown Rangoon. Vietnam’s Hoang Ahn Gia Lai Group and the Burmese Ministry of Tourism signed a US$ 300 million contract to build the center in December 2012, shortly after the Ministry expressly encouraged FDI in the tourism sector. Construction began earlier this year, and the complex will include a five-star hotel, and multi-use space with offices, apartments, retail and restaurants. The government hopes to increase the number of hotels in order to meet tourist demands, and we can expect to see the tourism sector – which developed significantly over recent years with an influx of Chinese tourists – to continue to expand rapidly.  Indeed, anticipating increasing visitor numbers, Rangoon’s Sedona Hotel is building an US$80 million, 29-story new wing.

Hluttaw Complex (Parliament), Naypyidaw, Myanmar Photo Credit: Peerapat Wimolrungkarat via Wikimedia Commons

Hluttaw Complex (Parliament), Naypyidaw, Myanmar
Photo Credit: Peerapat Wimolrungkarat via Wikimedia Commons

It is always difficult to predict the trajectory of a country so recently re-entering the world stage. However, with conscientious investing in all areas of the Burmese economy, coupled with sweeping reforms, and a continued effort to strengthen institutions and infrastructure, there is hope that long-term FDI will flourish, and Burma can enter the second decade of the 21st century as a nation that is truly developing.

TransLegal has a correspondent office in Rangoon and is available to assist answer your questions concerning doing business in Myanmar, including the introduction of local partners.

Burma (Myanmar) in a Post-Sanction Era

Francisco A. Laguna & Jennie Linder Cunningham

Map of Myanmar

Map of Myanmar

This week, we start a 2-part series on Burma (Myanmar).  Located in Southeast Asia, Burma is bordered by Laos, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, the Bay of Bengal, and just west of the South China Sea.  As such, the country is of interest both geopolitically and strategically. However, two decades of severe US and EU sanctions have left Burma severely underdeveloped, impoverished and (with the exception of some tourism) largely cut off from the rest of the world.

With lifting sanctions comes a renewed regional and international interest in the resource-rich country of 55 million.  Japan, China and India have all expressed interest in doing business in Burma – Japan having kept its distance in accordance with Western sanctions, while China did not.  Thailand and Vietnam have also been actively exploring in-country commercial relationships, and the United States has encouraged American businesses to do the same. Continue reading

Genetically Modified Organisms in Vietnam

Francisco A. Laguna & Annapurna Nandyal

This week, our series on transgenic foods and crops concludes with a focus on Vietnam.  Vietnam is a fascinating country.  TransLegal’s Founder, Francisco, went on a trade mission there in March and met with officials from the Ministry of Science & Technology (MoST), the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Ministry of Health (MinHealth) and the Ministry of the Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) to discuss issues including biotechnology and genetically modified organisms.

Photo Credit: Pamela S. Katz, Esquire

Photo Credit: Pamela S. Katz, Esquire

In terms of labor force, Vietnam is predominantly agrarian with 48% of the population employed in the agricultural sector. In 2012, agriculture was almost 22% of GDP.  Major products include paddy rice, coffee, rubber, tea, pepper, soybeans, cashews, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas, poultry, fish and seafood.

Vietnam recognizes the importance of biotechnology and transgenic crops, not only for domestic purposes but also for export.  Vietnam is a major world exporter of agricultural products in the world and is bullish on furthering biotechology applications in-country.  Recently, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu touted the country’s research and application of gene technology in selecting and creating high yield, quality and disease-resistant species of crops and livestock. Continue reading

Genetically Modified Organisms in Chile

Francisco A. Laguna & Annapurna Nandyal

This week, our series on transgenic foods and crops continues with a discussion about Chile.

Chile has turned food production into a global business, emerging as one of the world’s major food exporters.  Go into any supermarket and you will find an abundance of Chilean produce (and wine).  We’ve experienced that not only in the U.S., but also in China and Vietnam.

Map of Chile Photo Credit: The World Factbook

Map of Chile
Photo Credit: The World Factbook

About 13% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, and, in 2012, agriculture was almost 4% of GDP.  Major agricultural products include grapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, garlic, asparagus and beans.

Chile started producing genetically engineered seeds in 1996.  Now, it is the 5th largest producer of GM seeds, valued at some US$ 370 million per year.  An estimated 60,000 hectares has been planted with biotech maize, canola and soybean.  In-country, universities and laboratories are working on engineering citrus, potatoes, grapes, nectarines and peaches.

Interestingly, all GM seeds grown in the country are exclusively for export.  Chile does not allow the domestic use of transgenic seeds, and the law governing the production and exportation of biotechnology seeds is strictly enforced.  Continue reading