Foreign Direct Investment ( FDI )-Introduction

    Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is permited as under the following forms of investments.
  • Through financial collaborations.
  • Through joint ventures and technical collaborations.
  • Through capital markets via Euro issues.
  • Through private placements or preferential allotments.

Forbidden Territories:

    FDI is not permitted in the following industrial sectors:
  • Arms and ammunition.
  • Atomic Energy.
  • Railway Transport.
  • Coal and lignite.
  • Mining of iron, manganese, chrome, gypsum, sulphur, gold, diamonds, copper, zinc.

Foreign Investment through GDRs (Euro Issues)

Foreign Investment through GDRs is treated as Foreign Direct Investment
Indian companies are allowed to raise equity capital in the international market through the issue of Global Depository Receipt (GDRs). GDRs are designated in dollars and are not subject to any ceilings on investment. An applicant company seeking Government's approval in this regard should have consistent track record for good performance (financial or otherwise) for a minimum period of 3 years. This condition would be relaxed for infrastructure projects such as power generation, telecommunication, petroleum exploration and refining, ports, airports and roads.

Clearance from FIPB

There is no restriction on the number of Euro-issue to be floated by a company or a group of companies in the financial year . A company engaged in the manufacture of items covered under Annex-III of the New Industrial Policy whose direct foreign investment after a proposed Euro issue is likely to exceed 51% or which is implementing a project not contained in Annex-III, would need to obtain prior FIPB clearance before seeking final approval from Ministry of Finance.

Use of GDRs

The proceeds of the GDRs can be used for financing capital goods imports, capital expenditure including domestic purchase/installation of plant, equipment and building and investment in software development, prepayment or scheduled repayment of earlier external borrowings, and equity investment in JV/WOSs in India.


However, investment in stock markets and real estate will not be permitted. Companies may retain the proceeds abroad or may remit funds into India in anticiption of the use of funds for approved end uses. Any investment from a foreign firm into India requires the prior approval of the Government of India
Foreign Direct Investment Approval :Foreign direct investments in India are approved through two routes:

Automatic approval by RBI:

The Reserve Bank of India accords automatic approval within a period of two weeks (provided certain parameters are met) to all proposals involving:
foreign equity up to 50% in 3 categories relating to mining activities (List 2).
foreign equity up to 51% in 48 specified industries (List 3).
foreign equity up to 74% in 9 categories (List 4).
where List 4 includes items also listed in List 3, 74% participation shall apply.
The lists are comprehensive and cover most industries of interest to foreign companies. Investments in high-priority industries or for trading companies primarily engaged in exporting are given almost automatic approval by the RBI.

Opening an office in India
Opening an office in India for the aforesaid incorporates assessing the commercial opportunity for self, planning business, obtaining legal, financial, official, environmental, and tax advice as needed, choosing legal and capital structure, selecting a location, obtaining personnel, developing a product marketing strategy and more.
The FIPB Route:

Processing of non-automatic approval cases
FIPB stands for Foreign Investment Promotion Board which approves all other cases where the parameters of automatic approval are not met. Normal processing time is 4 to 6 weeks. Its approach is liberal for all sectors and all types of proposals, and rejections are few. It is not necessary for foreign investors to have a local partner, even when the foreign investor wishes to hold less than the entire equity of the company. The portion of the equity not proposed to be held by the foreign investor can be offered to the public.
Total foreign investment and FDI
Total foreign investment in IFY 1997-98 was estimated at dols 4.8 billion in 1997-98, compared to dols 6 billion in 1996-97. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 1997-98 was an estimated dols 3.1 billion, up from dols 2.7 billion in1996-97. The government is likely to double FDI inflows within two years. Foreign portfolio investment by foreign institutional investors was significantly lower at dols 752 million for fiscal 1997-98, down compared to dols 1.9 billion in1996-97, partly reflecting the effect of the recent crisis in Asia.
Foreign institutional investors
Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were net sellers from November 1997 through January 1998. The outflow, prompted by the economic and currency crisis in Asia and some volatility in the Indian rupee, was modest compared to the roughly dols 9 billion which has been invested in India by FIIs since 1992.
FII investments
FII net investment declined to dols 1.5 billion for IFY 1997-98, compared to dols 2.2 billion in 1996-97. The trend reversed itself in February and March 1998, reflecting the renewed stability of the rupee and relatively attractive valuations on Indian stock markets.
Large outflows of capital
Large outflows began again in May 1998, following India's nuclear tests and volatility in the rupee/dollar exchange rate. In an effort to avoid further heavy outflows, the RBI announced in June that FIIs would be allowed to hedge their incremental investments in Indian markets after June11, 1998.