'Doing business in India getting easier for UK cos'

Doing business in India getting easier for UK companies: Report

Findings from the UK India Business Council's Doing Business in India Report 2020 reveal that regulatory uncertainty remains a significant challenge

India's Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission is seen by the UK firms as an opportunity to do more business in the country. Credit: AFP

Nearly two-thirds of the UK businesses surveyed in India believe it is getting easier to do business in the country, owing to progressive reforms and improvements in the availability of support and service providers, skilled labour, and supply chain, according to a report unveiled on Thursday.

However, findings from the UK India Business Council's Doing Business in India Report 2020 reveal that regulatory uncertainty remains a significant challenge.

“Legal and regulatory barriers were the most frequently cited obstacle to business, as outlined by 51 per cent of respondents. Foreign exchange regulations, GST process issues, high import tariffs, lack of alignment with international standards remain the top four regulatory irritants,” the UK-India Business Council (UKIBC) said.

The survey suggests that improving bureaucratic processes with greater accountability, increasing regulatory certainty, simplification of the GST processes, improving the quality of infrastructure and making single-window clearance effective were the most sought-after reforms by UK businesses, in that order, UKIBC said.

Moreover, India's Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission is seen by the UK firms as an opportunity to do more business in the country, leveraging UK's innovation for manufacturing in India, the report found.

“66 per cent of the surveyed businesses said that they believe it is getting easier to do business in India, thanks to progressive reforms and improvements in components of India's business environment such as the availability of support and service providers, skilled labour, and supply chain,” UKIBC said on the report's findings.

UKIBC Chair Richard Heald OBE said this report comes at a time when the UK and India have committed to an Enhanced Trade Partnership, as agreed by UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, and Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, in July 2020.

“Although a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is an eventual goal, the immediate priority is to remove market access barriers and make it easier for companies to operate in and enter the Indian market,” he added.

UK Minister for Investment, Lord Gerry Grimstone, released the Council's 'Doing Business in India Report 2020' at a virtual roundtable with Indian industry captains on Thursday.

The report is UKIBC's sixth of an annual series dating back to 2015. This year's report is based on an in-depth survey of 106 UK organisations operating in India spanning manufacturing, services, and higher education sectors.

“In spite of new challenges to business such as Brexit, Covid-19, and the global economic slowdown, UK companies not only remain deeply committed to India, but many are optimistic of expanding their business footprint in India,” UKIBC Group CEO, Jayant Krishna, said.

For the third year running, Maharashtra emerged as the state with the maximum incremental improvement, followed by Karnataka, Delhi, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu, in that order.

Next in the sequence were Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh and Haryana to complete the top ten, found the report.