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Easing FDI Norms in Several Sectors, Including Digital Media, to be Taken Up in Cabinet Meet Tomorrow

In the single-brand retail sector, the Cabinet will consider a proposal of relaxing rules for complying with the mandatory 30 per cent local sourcing norms by foreign single-brand retailers.


Updated:August 27, 2019, 11:12 PM IST
Easing FDI Norms in Several Sectors, Including Digital Media, to be Taken Up in Cabinet Meet Tomorrow
(Representative Image, Reuters)

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday will consider relaxing foreign direct investment (FDI) norms in several sectors, including single-brand retail and digital media, to attract overseas players, sources said. Other sectors where FDI rules would be eased are coal mining and contract manufacturing.

The government may approve proposal to allow 100% FDI in contract manufacturing, they said.

In the existing foreign investment policy, 100% foreign direct investment is permitted in the manufacturing sector under the automatic route. A manufacturer is also allowed to sell products manufactured in India through wholesale and retail channels, including through e-commerce, without the government's approval.

But the policy does not talk about the contract manufacturing and it is not clearly defined in the policy.

"Big technology firms across the world are going for this, so there is a need for clarification on the matter," the sources said.

Other issues likely to be taken up at the Cabinet meet include those related to the sugar industry and Jammu and Kashmir, particularly jobs. Top sources in the government told CNN-News18 on Tuesday that a blueprint for generating employment is ready and the armed forces may be the first avenue for job creation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Similarly, the government is looking at coming out with a clarification on the applicability of the FDI policy on the digital media sector. The current policy is silent on the fast-growing digital media segment.

In the print media sector, 26% FDI is allowed through government approval route. Similarly, 49% is permitted in broadcasting content services through government approval route.

In the single-brand retail sector, the Cabinet will consider a proposal of relaxing rules for complying with the mandatory 30% local sourcing norms by foreign single-brand retailers. As per the proposal, single-brand retail firms would also be permitted to open online stores before setting up brick-and-mortar shops. Currently, online sale by a single-brand retail player is allowed only after the opening of physical outlets.

Relaxations are expected in a provision where foreign retail traders are presently allowed to adjust procurement of goods from India for their global operations for meeting the mandatory local sourcing requirement.

However, "incremental" sourcing of goods from India is only taken into account presently, and is allowed only for five years.

"Amendments and easing are also likely in this provision," a source said adding, foreign single brand retailers may be allowed to adjust all of their procurement of goods from India for their global operations for meeting the local sourcing norms.

In the coal mining sector, according to the proposal, foreign players would be allowed to mine coal and sell it. Currently, FDI is permitted for captive coal mining only.

The move comes in the backdrop of announcements made by the government in the Budget.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech in July had said that the government would examine suggestions of further opening up of FDI in aviation, media (animation, AVGC) and insurance sectors in consultation with all stakeholders to attract more overseas investment.

FDI in India dipped 1% to $44.36 billion in 2018-19.

Last year, the government had relaxed FDI rules for several sectors, including single-brand retail, non-banking financial companies and construction.

Foreign investments are considered crucial for India, which needs billions of dollars for overhauling its infrastructure sector such as ports, airports and highways to boost growth.

FDI helps in improving the country's balance of payments situation and strengthen the rupee value against other global currencies, especially the US dollar.

(With inputs from PTI)

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