Economy – The Eastern Link https://theeasternlink.com Connecting Regions of Asia. Fri, 27 Nov 2020 17:02:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7 https://theeasternlink.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/cropped-external-link-symbol-32x32.png Economy – The Eastern Link https://theeasternlink.com 32 32 India Faces ‘Technical Recession’ https://theeasternlink.com/india-faces-technical-recession/ https://theeasternlink.com/india-faces-technical-recession/#respond Fri, 27 Nov 2020 17:02:00 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=8585

India’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 7.5 per cent in the July-September period, as the economy rebounded from a record slump of 23.9 per cent in the previous quarter due to slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Today’s data confirms the economy’s first technical recession – which is two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction – […]

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India’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 7.5 per cent in the July-September period, as the economy rebounded from a record slump of 23.9 per cent in the previous quarter due to slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Today’s data confirms the economy’s first technical recession – which is two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction – since 1996, when the country began quarterly records. The GDP reading for the second quarter of current financial year is much better than economists’ forecasts of 8.8 per cent in a poll by news agency Reuters.

Here are 10 things to know about the country’s GDP:

  1. Yet, the economy is on track to register an overall contraction of 8.7 per cent over the full year, which, if that were to happen, would be its worst performance in more than four decades.
  2. However, annual growth of 3.4 per cent in the farm sector and 0.6 per cent in manufacturing raised hopes of an early recovery as the government gears up to distribute coronavirus vaccines to a country with about 140 crore people. (Also Read: Agriculture, Manufacturing Buck Trend As GDP Contracts By 7.5%)
  3. The latest data brings hopes of a recovery following thousands of job losses, and the majority of workforce staying indoors, in the aftermath of COVID-19-related restrictions – a big blow to an already-slowing economy.
  4. “Till the pandemic does not go away, some of the sectors that are affected by social distancing will continue to experience demand slump,” said Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian. “We should be cautiously optimistic,” he said. 
  5. There has been a drop in the country’s daily coronavirus cases, which have tapered off to half of its peak of more than 97,000 infections a day in mid-September. COVID-19 infections in India have crossed 9.27 million, making it the world’s second most affected country after the US.
  6. As some states re-imposed curbs this week to fight a second wave of infections, businesses feared the restrictions could slow the pace of recovery in the next two or three months, as well as heighten the risk of inflation.
  7. Many economists expect the economy to return to expansion mode as early as in the December quarter, as the pickup sustains. They predict a contraction of 3 per cent in the December quarter, followed by an expansion of 0.5 per cent in the final January-March period of financial year 2020-21 on hopes of better consumer demand fuelled by progress on coronavirus vaccines.
  8. Recently, the government announced additional stimulus measures under its Atmanirbhar Bharat series of announcements. Under Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman listed measures worth ₹ 2.65 lakh crore with a focus on job creation and sectors such as real estate, taking the total monetary and fiscal aid in the country’s battle against COVID-19 to ₹ 29.88 lakh crore or 15 per cent of its GDP.
  9. On Thursday, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das highlighted a stronger-than-expected recovery from the coronavirus-led lockdown, hinting at continued monetary policy support to revive the economy. The RBI chief’s remarks in his address at an event come days ahead of the central bank’s scheduled bi-monthly policy review.
  10. The RBI has been doing the heavy lifting on providing stimulus to the economy, having lowered the key benchmark rates by a total 115 basis points (1.15 percentage point) so far in this calendar year. The central bank has infused liquidity and transferred crores of rupees in dividend to the government, despite inflation remaining well beyond its comfort level of 2-6 per cent.

Courtesy – NDTV

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China Boycott Gets Diwali Bonanza For Indian Traders https://theeasternlink.com/china-boycott-gets-diwali-bonanza-for-indian-traders/ https://theeasternlink.com/china-boycott-gets-diwali-bonanza-for-indian-traders/#respond Sun, 15 Nov 2020 12:29:11 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=8297

NEW DELHI: Trader’s body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Sunday (November 15) expressed that it has recorded sales of around Rs 72,000 crore this Diwali across major markets in the country.  According to CAIT, the business was carried on during this year’s Diwali with no Chinese goods on sale amid CAIT’s call to boycott […]

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NEW DELHI: Trader’s body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Sunday (November 15) expressed that it has recorded sales of around Rs 72,000 crore this Diwali across major markets in the country. 

According to CAIT, the business was carried on during this year’s Diwali with no Chinese goods on sale amid CAIT’s call to boycott Chinese goods.

“As per reports gathered from 20 different cities which are also considered to be the leading distribution centers of India, it is expected that Diwali festive sales generated a turnover of about Rs 72,000 crores and gave China the expected loss of Rs 40,000 crore,” CAIT said in a statement.

At least 20 cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Nagpur, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Ranchi, Bhopal, Lucknow, Kanpur, Noida, Jammu, Ahmadabad, Surat, Cochin, Jaipur, Chandigarh are considered as ‘distribution cities’ by the CAIT for the purpose of its surveys.

The CAIT said that the robust sales that happened in commercial markets during Diwali festive season indicates good business prospects in future and brought back some smile on the faces of traders.

FMCG goods, consumer durables, toys, electrical appliances and goods, electronic appliances and white goods, kitchen articles and accessories, gift items, confectionary items, sweets, home furnishing, tapestry, utensils, gold and jewellery , footwear, watches, furniture, fixtures, garments, fashion apparels, cloth, home decoration goods were among the products most purchased on Diwali, it said.

It is to be noted that CAIT has been running a campaign to boycott Chinese goods in the country. Earlier in June this year, barely days after the violent Galwan Valley clashes in which 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives, CAIT urged the Centre and Indian citizens to boycott all Chinese companies.

Courtesy – https://zeenews.india.com/

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Chabahar Exempt From US Santions : Pompeo https://theeasternlink.com/chabahar-exempt-from-us-santions-pompeo/ https://theeasternlink.com/chabahar-exempt-from-us-santions-pompeo/#respond Mon, 26 Oct 2020 04:52:42 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=7824

An Indian newspaper says the United States has offered fresh assurances to India that its involvement in the Iranian port of Chabahar would not be affected by Washington’s sanctions on Iran. The Sunday Express said in a report that US authorities had signaled India’s exemptions from Iran sanctions in a diplomatic message conveyed to New […]

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An Indian newspaper says the United States has offered fresh assurances to India that its involvement in the Iranian port of Chabahar would not be affected by Washington’s sanctions on Iran.

The Sunday Express said in a report that US authorities had signaled India’s exemptions from Iran sanctions in a diplomatic message conveyed to New Delhi earlier in October just after Washington imposed a series of new bans on Iran’s financial sector.

The report said the message came as senior US officials prepare to hold days of high-profile meetings in New Delhi starting October 26.

It said that Washington’s assurances on India’s work in Chabahar falls within the framework of humanitarian exemptions given to entities and governments working on reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.

They are also linked to disputed assertions by US authorities in the past claiming that the sale of food and medicine to Iran is exempt from the sanctions.

India has committed itself to major investment and development plans in Chabahar, a port on the Sea of Oman where Iran is seeking to set up a major hub of trade between the Indian Ocean and landlocked countries to its east and northeast.

However, reports show that Iran has been generally unsatisfied with the degree of India’s involvement in the port as New Delhi keeps blaming the US sanctions for a halt in various projects.

The report by The Sunday Express suggested that Indian companies have been further pushed back from work in Chabahar by a US government announcement on October 9 which expanded the sanctions to cover 18 Iranian banks. The new bans require all-non American entities with interests in the US to wind down their engagement with the Iranian financial sector within 45 days.

Iran has been pressing ahead with its massive infrastructure projects in Chabahar despite India’s poor progress in the port.

Experts believe activities in Chabahar will boom significantly once a 700-kilometer railway connecting the port to areas near the Afghan border comes fully on line by March 2022.

Courtesy – PressTv

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A Supply Chain To Counter China https://theeasternlink.com/a-supply-chain-to-counter-china/ https://theeasternlink.com/a-supply-chain-to-counter-china/#respond Wed, 19 Aug 2020 15:08:45 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=6632

India, Japan and Australia are working on a supply chain agreement to counter dependence on China by creating a alternative. The countries plan to launch a trilateral Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI), which was first proposed by Tokyo, according to a report by The Economic Times. The commerce and trade ministers of the three countries […]

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India, Japan and Australia are working on a supply chain agreement to counter dependence on China by creating a alternative.

The countries plan to launch a trilateral Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI), which was first proposed by Tokyo, according to a report by The Economic Times.

The commerce and trade ministers of the three countries might discuss the initiative for the first time at a meeting next week, the report added.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the story.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry approached India and highlighted the urgent need to work on the initiative, said the report.

Tokyo has said it was in favour of launching the SCRI by November, the report said. ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) may later be invited to join the global supply chain.

India has taken the supply chain proposal seriously and has taken the decision at the highest levels of the government, the report said.

India-China ties have been strained amid border tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). In June, there was a clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers at Galwan Valley in Ladakh.

Following the border scuffle, India amended its FDI norms and has started taking a closer look on Chinese money pouring into Indian entities.

India has also introduced sops to attract global investors in an effort to compete with China and offer an alternative.

For instance, the government’s production linked incentive (PLI) scheme, which offers incentives to companies engaged in manufacturing mobile phones and specified electronic components in India, has drawn huge interest from global and local original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

With no signs of de-escalation at the border, the government is mulling further action against China on the economic front.

This comes as China’s People’s Liberation Army, as per latest reports, is still holding forward positions on Pangong Tso and Gogra-Hot Springs area of Ladakh.

Courtesy – moneycontrol.com/

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China-Australia Decoupling To Hit Both https://theeasternlink.com/china-australia-decoupling-to-hit-both/ https://theeasternlink.com/china-australia-decoupling-to-hit-both/#respond Thu, 23 Jul 2020 02:30:47 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=6003

A push for decoupling between China and Australia could jeopardise not only trade, but knowledge and commercial benefits gleaned from growing research collaboration, a new report said on Tuesday. China has overtaken the United States as Australia’s leading international partner in producing scientific papers, the results of which can often be commercialised, according to the Australia-China Relations […]

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A push for decoupling between China and Australia could jeopardise not only trade, but knowledge and commercial benefits gleaned from growing research collaboration, a new report said on Tuesday.

China has overtaken the United States as Australia’s leading international partner in producing scientific papers, the results of which can often be commercialised, according to the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) at the University of Technology Sydney.

And while knowledge and research collaboration needed to be managed to ensure national security, this must be balanced with scientific discovery, the report argued.

In 2019, the number of Australian scientific papers involving a researcher affiliated with a Chinese institution grew by 13.1 per cent, while the number involving a US-affiliated researcher declined by 0.3 per cent, the ACRI report said.

This makes it plain that if Australia wants to be at the forefront of knowledge creation in material sciences, it is in Australia’s interests to engage with ChinaJames Laurenceson

Australia-China collaborations now comprise 16.2 per cent of all Australian scientific papers, up from 3.1 per cent in 2005. The US is Australia’s second largest partner in scientific papers at 15.5 per cent followed by Britain at 11.7 per cent.

Collaboration was mainly conducted in the fields of materials science, chemical engineering and energy, areas of speciality for Chinese research. China was responsible for 37 per cent of the global research papers on materials science in 2019, whereas Australia only produced 2.1 per cent.

“This makes it plain that if Australia wants to be at the forefront of knowledge creation in material sciences, it is in Australia’s interests to engage with China. And that is exactly what happens,” co-author and ACRI director James Laurenceson said.

“Risks need to be managed. And they are. But let’s not miss the forest for the trees and the reality is that working with China benefits Australia’s national interests.”

“The fact that Australia-China collaboration is so extensive is testament to the scale of the mutual benefits involved.”

China and Australia have been embroiled in a trade dispute since April, when Canberra pushed for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, drawing Beijing’s ire and prompting concerns about the potential for a new trade war.

Theft of intellectual property (IP) or proprietary knowledge is one of the main issues at the heart of the US-China trade dispute.

US President Donald Trump, in imposing tariffs on Chinese imports, claimed Beijing had repeatedly attempted to steal American intellectual property through its “technology transfer policies”, which required foreign businesses to form joint ventures with domestic Chinese companies when operating in the country, thereby exposing them to potential IP theft.

But the circumstances surrounding shared collaboration are different, according to the ACRI, a research centre initially set up with funding from Chinese property developer Huang Xiangmo, who was stripped of his Australian residency early last year over allegations he interfered in Australian domestic policies.

Unlike intellectual property, new joint research cannot be “stolen” and once it is concluded it is openly shared. Controls also exist at national levels to protect sensitive technologies, the ACRI said.

“[Also] unlike the US, and increasingly China, Australia is not a major global source of commercially valuable intellectual property. Australia is a net intellectual property importer and always has been,” Laurenceson said.

In recent years, increased research collaboration between the two countries has drawn criticism in Australia, with some groups saying there should be a limit due to national security risks and China’s poor human rights record.Groups like the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney have also said technology decoupling between the US and China could put pressure on Australia to follow suit “owing to its deep enmeshment with America’s scientific infrastructure” and “to limit its science and technology interaction with China in critical dual-use fields to maintain technological collaboration with the US”. Dual-use technologies can be used for both civilian and military purposes.

ACRI also said concerns in Australia that science and technology priorities were being controlled by the Chinese government because funding were largely unfounded. It cited two incidents in the past three years in which the Department of Defence told a parliamentary inquiry there were no university breaches of technology controlled under the Defence Trade Controls Act.

If actions we take have the effect of reducing fruitful collaboration instead of only stopping the problematic kind, a blunt decoupling would obviously throw the baby out with the bath waterRoland Rajah

“This means that the tendency of some local commentators to regurgitate a US government talking point about China struggles against facts and evidence in an Australian context,” Laurenceson said.

Decoupling in research collaboration would have negative effects on both countries, but protection of research on possible dual use technologies was needed, said the Lowy Institute, an independent think tank based in Sydney.

“The big difficulty is telling good from bad. If actions we take have the effect of reducing fruitful collaboration instead of only stopping the problematic kind, a blunt decoupling would obviously throw the baby out with the bath water,” Lowy Institute economist Roland Rajah said.

“That seems unlikely at this point. The more difficult issue is that it can be difficult to tell what should genuinely be seen as dual use and what should not.”

Despite the debate, Australia-China collaborations continue and earlier this month a fourth funding round worth up to A$5 million (US$3.6 million) for food and agribusiness research through the Australia-China Science and Research Fund-Joint Research Centres opened for applications.

An evaluation of the programme from 2011 to 2014 by consulting firm ACIL Allen shows that “despite the programme having only been in operation for a relatively short time, it already appears likely to deliver outputs that will lead to the commercialisation of new products or services”.

The bilateral programme has led to the creation of companies like Australia-based Renergi, which used outcomes from the energy round of the scheme to develop and commercialise innovative bioenergy and biofuel technologies, according to the Australian Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

Courtesy – SCMP

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China factor In India’s Vietnam Trade https://theeasternlink.com/china-factor-in-indias-vietnam-trade/ https://theeasternlink.com/china-factor-in-indias-vietnam-trade/#respond Sat, 11 Jul 2020 05:00:57 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=5765

After Singapore and Hong Kong, Vietnam has emerged as the third Asian trade partner, which counts on massive Chinese investments, to turn its usual trade deficit with India into a decent surplus in a span of just three years. Between FY18 and FY20, India’s trade balance with Vietnam swang from a surplus of $2.8 billion […]

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After Singapore and Hong Kong, Vietnam has emerged as the third Asian trade partner, which counts on massive Chinese investments, to turn its usual trade deficit with India into a decent surplus in a span of just three years.

Between FY18 and FY20, India’s trade balance with Vietnam swang from a surplus of $2.8 billion to a deficit of $2.2 billion, according to official data. While India’s imports from the south-east Asian nation jumped from $5 billion in FY18 to $7.3 billion in FY20, its exports crashed from $7.8 billion to $5.1 billion during this period.

This was also the period (FY18-20) when Beijing’s trade war with Washington hit a peak and China was scouting for destinations to divert a part of its supplies from the American market. Even India has been pressuring China in recent years to trim a huge bilateral trade imbalance in favour of the neighbour.

These may have promoted China to divert its supplies to India through some Asean members and Hong Kong by abusing the rules of origin of imported products, analysts have pointed out. But this also makes it very difficult for India to target China effectively, as Beijing can bypass New Delhi’s tariff and non-tariff measures by diverting its supplies through these destinations. Vietnam is a part of the 10-member Asean with which New Delhi has a free trade agreement (FTA).

Interestingly, imports of not just electronics and electricals (of which Vietnam is a key supplier) but also copper products, capital goods, iron & steel and inorganic chemicals have risen since FY15. China, undoubtedly, remains the dominant exporter of these products.

Diversion basically serves two purposes: the essentially Chinese products enjoy duty-free access and it also doesn’t reflect in China’s overall massive trade surplus with India, which stood at a massive $48 billion in FY20.

Already, as FE had reported earlier, an unusual 118% year-on-year spurt in India’s merchandise imports from Singapore to a record $16.3 billion in FY19 had alarmed customs officials. Consequently, India’s trade balance with Singapore exacerbated dramatically, from a surplus of $2.7 billion in FY18 to a deficit of $4.7 billion in FY19. Similarly, India ran a trade deficit with Hong Kong, a proxy for Beijing, for the first time in over two decades in FY19. The deficit widened to $6 billion in FY20 from $5 billion in FY19, marking a sharp turnaround from a surplus of $4 billion in FY18.

Courtesy – Financial Express

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Honey I Shrunk The Middle Class & Killed The Indian Economy https://theeasternlink.com/honey-i-shrunk-the-middle-class-killed-the-indian-economy/ https://theeasternlink.com/honey-i-shrunk-the-middle-class-killed-the-indian-economy/#respond Thu, 04 Jun 2020 17:15:02 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=4619

India’s middle class has been shrinking and Covid19 has crushed it. A few years ago, our presentations used to show a rosy picture of India having a 200 to 300 million middle class population with growing income and global aspirations. This created a boom in real estate, automobile, retail, travel and tourism, education, among others. […]

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India’s middle class has been shrinking and Covid19 has crushed it. A few years ago, our presentations used to show a rosy picture of India having a 200 to 300 million middle class population with growing income and global aspirations. This created a boom in real estate, automobile, retail, travel and tourism, education, among others. The GDP growth was powered largely by the demand generated by this middle class middle income growth.; an exploding consumer market that McKinsey Global Institute in 2007 described as India’s “bird of gold”.

The reality check actually began last year, when a noted government economist sounded the first alarm that India is facing a middle income trap. What it means that it middle class incomes reach a point of growth and then stalls there refusing to move up any further and was even declining. New data began to emerge that the middle class is actually around 150 million, half of what was being painted earlier. Actually the size of the middle class is now anyone’s guess.

India’s slowing economy since 2016 when we pulled the handbrakes suddenly, has shrunk the middle class even more. Depending on the measures used, the estimated size of this middle class ranges between 78 million (Economist, Jan 2018) to 604 million (Krishnan and Hatekar, EPW June 2017).

Actually the size of the middle class depends on the income yardstick one applies to define it. Economists have used an income threshold that defines middle class people as those living on between $2 to $10 per person per day, valued at 1993 purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars. (Purchasing power parity enables you to compare how much you can buy for your money in different countries.) So you can very well gauge the wide disparities in the very range of population that fall under middle class. Then there is urban middle class and rural middle class where there is a difference in their purchasing power.

If you consider the urban middle class, then it is mostly the salaried class (you can split hairs on this). This segment has been pummelled in the last few years. They have lost jobs, seen their real estate investments plummet, investment incomes shrink from continuously declining bank interests, and volatile capital markets erode their wealth. Covid19 has dealt the deadliest blow to this sector.

Now this is the demand side of the economy that was pushing up the GDP and holding aloft India’s global ambitions. While the government is rightly concerned about the agriculture sector (one hopes that this concern is genuine), those who are extremely poor and the manufacturing verticals to shore up the economy, precious little has been done for the middle class which has been the bulwark of the economy.

Recent policies have largely been towards reducing interests to help businesses get cheaper loans to increase their production. This is a supply side economics at work, missing out the demand side. Now, why would manufacturers borrow more even if funds are cheaper if demand isn’t there? They already have 50% idle capacity, because demand has fallen. So, there are few takers of low interest bank loans. Let’s check the data, the credit growth in the country fell from 6.9% in April 2019 to a meagre 1.4% in March 2020. Obviously, policy decisions to cut interest rates haven’t worked. People are going to go to the malls to feel good, but they will spend only on small feel-good purchases.

India is caught in a peculiar situation, businesses are not borrowing because they face a demand recession, the middle class is now borrowing because they can’t afford to pay off mortgages as their incomes have shrunk. This is the reality of India’s economy. It’s aspirations to become a $5 trillion economy lies in tatters, it cannot have a domestic demand led growth because it has shrunk and impoverished the middle class. If one doesn’t understand this basic problem, and takes care to define it, the solution will never happen. It just needs common sense, which is absent in the government thinking, to understand the core of the problem. It needs talent to work out solutions, but the best brains have left the administration.
(Abhijit Roy is a columnist of Technology issues with an interest in Economy)

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WTO Report Examines Pandemic Impact On Small Businesses https://theeasternlink.com/wto-report-examines-pandemic-impact-on-small-businesses/ https://theeasternlink.com/wto-report-examines-pandemic-impact-on-small-businesses/#respond Wed, 03 Jun 2020 07:23:59 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=4569

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Secretariat has published an information note looking at how micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It notes the impact of supply chain disruptions on MSMEs and the extent to which smaller businesses are represented in the economic sectors hardest hit by the crisis.The report […]

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The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Secretariat has published an information note looking at how micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
It notes the impact of supply chain disruptions on MSMEs and the extent to which smaller businesses are represented in the economic sectors hardest hit by the crisis.
The report says that supply chain disruptions can have a particularly severe impact on MSMEs because sourcing from new suppliers or absorbing price increases is more challenging for a smaller firm with limited supply options and capital.  
The report looks into a wide range of measures taken by governments to support MSMEs. These include measures to address cash flow issues, to expand trade opportunities for MSMEs and to make them more resilient. 
According to the report, 44 WTO members had introduced such measures by the end of April 2020.
The note describes how international trade provides MSMEs with opportunities to diversify revenue streams and better navigate the COVID-19 crisis.
It outlines that work at the WTO can support small business by promoting the importance of transparency, facilitating the exchange of best practice, highlighting the need for increased access to trade finance and encouraging full implementation of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of many economies, representing 95 per cent of all companies worldwide and accounting for 60 per cent of employment. 
Many MSMEs depend on international trade for their activities, either because they export their products through direct or indirect channels, or because they import inputs to manufacture the products that they sell domestically. 
They are major employers of women and young people, and a key driver of innovation.MSMEs are particularly exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact because of limited financial resources and borrowing capacity, and because of their disproportionate presence in economic sectors affected by social distancing measures and transport disruptions. 
MSMEs are also particularly exposed to trade restrictions on agricultural products.Where MSMEs are highly integrated into global value chains (GVCs), supply chain disruptions can create an existential risk for MSME importers and exporters, either because of shortages of necessary parts, or through shocks to demand.
The pandemic-related challenges add on to the existing, well-known trade obstacles encountered by MSMEs, and therefore undermine progress towards more inclusive trade.
Governments have primarily introduced urgent stimulus and backstop measures for MSMEs, such as liquidity support to address cash flow issues, with the aim of preserving jobs and ensuring business continuity, as well as measures to expand trade opportunities for MSMEs. 
A few governments have also introduced measures aimed at developing the resilience of MSMEs and building their capacity to overcome future shocks to demand and supply chains.
To limit the impact of the current crisis on MSMEs and to build their resilience, it is critical that MSMEs have better access to regulatory and market information and affordable trade finance, as well as to streamlined customs procedures and requirements.
 Greater use of digital tools and e-commerce would also benefit MSMEs.
The WTO can contribute to supporting MSMEs in several ways, such as
* through transparency mechanisms in WTO committees and bodies, as well as in the Informal Working Group on MSMEs;
*  through the exchange of good practices in terms of MSME support measures; 
* through full implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement; through continued efforts in enhancing access for MSMEs to trade finance; 
* by harnessing transparent, fair and open procurement markets; and by supporting trade digitalization efforts, including through the development of e-commerce rules.

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The World’s Most Expensive Sibling Rivalry https://theeasternlink.com/the-worlds-most-expensive-sibling-rivalry/ https://theeasternlink.com/the-worlds-most-expensive-sibling-rivalry/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2020 06:25:08 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=4572

Even by the sky-high standards of Indian nuptials, the wedding of Akash Ambani and Shloka Mehta in March of last year was ambitious. The festivities began in the Swiss Alps, with inner-circle guests flown by private jet to St. Moritz, where the diversions included a winter carnival and a performance by Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Then […]

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Even by the sky-high standards of Indian nuptials, the wedding of Akash Ambani and Shloka Mehta in March of last year was ambitious. The festivities began in the Swiss Alps, with inner-circle guests flown by private jet to St. Moritz, where the diversions included a winter carnival and a performance by Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Then it was back to Mumbai for three days of events, culminating in a grand reception that took over a brand-new convention center. It had been transformed for the occasion into a fantasia of undulating columns, fountains, and screens composed from vivid sheets of live flowers. In one spot, an ingeniously designed peacock sculpture fanned out its floral plumage for the amusement of passersby. The centerpiece was a giant statue of the Hindu god Krishna, made entirely of plants.

The cost was easily in the tens of millions of dollars, but for Akash’s father, Mukesh, it was pocket change. Mukesh is the chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd., which owns oil refineries, chemical plants, supermarkets, and India’s largest mobile network. With a personal net worth of about $53 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mukesh is the richest person in Asia and, apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, probably India’s most powerful citizen. The economic centrality of Reliance, which accounts for almost 10% of India’s total exports, is difficult to overstate. In American terms, it’s as though Dow Chemical, AT&T, Exxon Mobil, and Amazon were a single conglomerate. Even the coronavirus pandemic has barely slowed it down. While the collapse in oil prices battered Reliance stock, it’s recouped almost all the losses, thanks in part to a $5.7 billion deal to sell a stake in its digital arm to Facebook Inc.

As the wedding began, Mukesh’s brother, Anil Ambani, who’s also a prominent businessman, lingered near the entrance to greet guests. He performed his familial duties with aplomb, making sure everyone was suitably refreshed and properly oriented through the plant life and advising Akash on how to make a grand entrance.

The outward harmony, though, papered over a tense situation. At the time of the wedding, Anil was 10 days away from a court-imposed deadline to repay $80 million in debt, with failure potentially punishable by imprisonment—the most extreme example of a legal crackdown on large-scale borrowing by Indian businesspeople. For weeks he and Mukesh had been locked in negotiations over a bailout, mediated in part by their mother, who urged them to find a solution that would protect Anil and keep the Ambani name from being associated with financial ruin. But Mukesh wasn’t going to help his brother avoid debtor’s prison for nothing, and Anil had yet to offer collateral he was willing to accept.

The last-minute talks were the low point of a domestic breakdown that’s captivated the Indian business world. The Ambani brothers began their careers as intimate collaborators, with Anil once describing their approach as “two bodies, one mind.” But after the death of their father, Dhirubhai, who founded Reliance almost five decades ago, they grew increasingly estranged, first splitting his empire and then becoming direct competitors. Their sibling rivalry since then has become an object lesson in the promise and perils of India’s economy under Modi. Since the Hindu nationalist leader came to office in 2014, tycoons who can help deliver on his agenda of Indian self-sufficiency—above all, Mukesh—have seen their fortunes and influence swell, while others—Anil included—have found their margin for error drastically reduced. Neither Mukesh, Anil, nor their companies replied to repeated requests for comment on this story and its contents. Bloomberg News is currently defending against litigation brought by Anil in connection with previous reporting.

The negotiations between the brothers continued nearly to the deadline. Although the Ambani clan publicly characterized them as amicable, two people familiar with the talks, who asked to remain anonymous discussing a family matter, used a different descriptor. Mukesh, both said, made Anil “beg.”

The Ambanis’ story has the ring of an entrepreneurial fairy tale. A former gas station attendant from a remote town in the western state of Gujarat, Dhirubhai spotted a gap in the consumer market in the early 1970s: supplying nylon, polyester, and other synthetic materials, which were still novelties in India. He founded Reliance in 1973 as a trading house, then gradually turned it into a vertically integrated operation, first by manufacturing the fibers, then producing the chemical precursors they needed, then refining the oil used to make those, too. By the late 1980s the company was the dominant, and in some cases exclusive, domestic manufacturer of a range of key petrochemicals.

In the business world, Dhirubhai—his real name was Dhirajlal, but he was almost always called by the nickname, which incorporates the Hindi word for “brother”—was known as more than a skilled factory operator. Until the 1990s the biggest headache for India’s companies was the so-called License Raj, an ever-shifting system of import quotas, permit requirements, and price controls that governed most of the economy. Dhirubhai seemed always to be one step ahead of its strictures. According to Reliance veterans, he maintained an office building on the outskirts of Delhi, stuffed with retired bureaucrats assigned to keep tabs on their former colleagues. Among other tasks, they tracked the ages of senior officials’ children so they could be offered Reliance-funded scholarships to study abroad when they reached university age. During Diwali, the former employees said, Reliance would send mailroom assistants at important ministries boxes of candy, each with a small piece of gold or silver hidden inside—a common practice, but also a reminder to keep the company informed of what their superiors were working on.

Dhirubhai took a similarly deliberate approach to raising Mukesh and Anil, who were born in 1957 and 1959, respectively. On weekends, Anil has said, their father would lead them on “incentive-oriented outings”—for instance, a 10-kilometer hike through the rain, with a box of mangoes as a reward. Mukesh recounted that, to punish the boys for acting out while guests were visiting, Dhirubhai once confined them for “two days in the garage on water and roti.” There was never any doubt that both would join the family business, and by their mid-20s they’d assumed prominent roles: Mukesh as a hands-on manager of facilities, including Reliance’s first domestic polyester plant, and Anil as an executive dealing with government officials, investors, and the press.

Their roles suited their personalities. Mukesh wore little that was fancier than an untucked short-sleeve shirt, married a woman chosen for him by his parents at 27, and spent most evenings watching old movies at home. Anil, who slicked back his hair and dressed in sharp suits, was part of Mumbai’s fast crowd, friendly with socialites and Bollywood stars, whom he sometimes took on getaways in a corporate jet. He married at 31, late in India, and his parents made no secret of their disapproval of his choice of spouse, the actress Tina Munim. While Mukesh was rarely seen in public, on many evenings reporters could find Anil outside Reliance’s headquarters, sitting on the hood of a Cadillac and munching on street food while talking up the company’s prospects to anyone who’d listen.

There was plenty to brag about. By 2001, Reliance was India’s most important corporation by virtually every measure, with big plans for expansion in financial services, electricity generation, and telecommunications, plus an oil refining operation on its way to being so large that the national trade deficit rises substantially when it closes for maintenance. Any tensions between the Ambani sons were kept hidden while their father was alive. But in 2002, Dhirubhai died suddenly from a stroke. He was only 69 and hadn’t left a formal succession plan. With no indication of how he wished his heirs to divide power, they sorted themselves by age, Mukesh becoming Reliance’s chairman and Anil vice chairman.

Their relationship soon grew strained, according to people close to them at the time. Each believed the other was making decisions without enough consultation: Mukesh was annoyed when Anil announced a power-generation project without discussing it, and Anil was infuriated when Mukesh restructured the entities that managed the family’s Reliance shares without his input. Underlying it all was a dispute about the basic nature of the relationship. Mukesh saw himself as the undisputed boss, whereas Anil considered himself an equal partner.

The brothers’ discord burst out into the open two years after Dhirubhai’s death, when Reliance’s board passed a motion indicating that Anil would henceforth be “under the overall authority of the chairman.” He viewed it as a humiliation, according to a person knowledgeable about his thinking. A sort of Ambani civil war ensued. Anil refused to sign off on Reliance’s financial statements, citing what he said were inadequate disclosures, and directors at a subsidiary he ran resigned to show their loyalty. At one point, India’s finance minister pleaded with the brothers to repair their relationship. After a year the family matriarch, Kokilaben Ambani, decided she’d had enough. In June 2005 she declared in a statement that she’d “amicably resolved the issues of my two sons” with an arrangement that would “resolutely uphold the values of their father and work towards protecting and enhancing value.”

Her solution was a split. Mukesh would take the profitable but slow-growing refinery and petrochemicals businesses, while Anil would get the operations that seemed to have more long-term potential: financial services, power generation, and telecommunications. It was a remarkable move, divvying up a substantial portion of India’s economy as though it were a set of heirloom china. It also seemed, at least for a while, like a reasonably equitable deal. In 2007, according to estimates by Forbes India, Anil’s net worth tripled, to $45 billion, making him the country’s third-richest citizen. His brother was a mere $4 billion ahead. With plenty of cash to play with, Anil adopted billionaire hobbies such as film production, becoming one of the main backers of Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Pictures. Sometimes he invited members of Mumbai’s elite to screenings of upcoming releases at his home. Mukesh wasn’t seen among the guests.

The truce between the brothers included an unusual proviso: a fraternal noncompete clause that forbade each from entering the other’s industries for a period of 10 years. Eventually, though, Anil’s businesses began to struggle. Power projects failed as state authorities mandated lower electricity rates; he had to rebuild a national mobile network from scratch when it became clear its technology would soon be obsolete. Mukesh, whose company was raking in more than $40 billion a year, saw an opportunity. As part of a 2010 deal to supply natural gas that Anil needed to make failing power plants viable, people close to the younger Ambani said, Mukesh insisted that the noncompete deal be annulled.

The business he was eyeing was telecommunications. At the time only about half of India’s population had a mobile phone, which meant there was a massive pool of potential customers. In 2016, Reliance unveiled Jio, a mobile operator that promised much cheaper rates than competitors. “Mobile internet will be the single most defining technology of this century for human development,” Mukesh said in an interview promoting the launch. “We feel fortunate to be the ones to bring the mobile broadband revolution to 1.2 billion Indians.”

The circumstances of Jio’s creation reminded some Ambani watchers of Dhirubhai’s early success navigating the Indian regulatory state. Jio’s wireless spectrum had been originally purchased not by Reliance but by a little-known company called Infotel Broadband Services Ltd., which Reliance acquired just hours afterward. A little under three years later, the national communications regulator changed the rules to allow that spectrum to be used for voice calls as well as data. Had that been the case at the time of the auction, public auditors estimated, the sale price of roughly $2.7 billion would have been about $533 million higher. An earlier draft of the auditors’ report, leaked to Indian media outlets, put the difference at $3.6 billion. (Reliance has said the acquisition of Jio’s spectrum complied with all relevant rules.)

Mukesh’s mounting success has inspired both awe and a certain amount of fear

With Jio, Mukesh aspired not just to enter but to dominate India’s ultracompetitive wireless market, which at times has had as many as a dozen operators. He believed he could do so by turning those hundreds of millions of largely poor people without mobile service, let alone a smartphone, into online consumers. With vast cash reserves, Reliance could lose money on cut-rate packages for years if necessary while it built a large, loyal customer base that could eventually turn profitable.

At first, Jio’s service was practically free, offered as an extended beta test to what competitors claimed were as many as 3 million customers. When it went national, its data rates were far cheaper than anyone else’s—sometimes just 7.5 rupees (about 10¢) per gigabyte, with no charges for voice calls. Rivals accused Jio of predatory behavior—a suggestion it rejected—and a price war followed, hitting Anil’s already shaky cellular business, Reliance Communications, particularly hard. According to a person familiar with Mukesh’s strategy, he saw the likelihood that Jio would crush his brother’s company as neither incentive nor deterrent. Rather, the person said, he saw Anil as simply another competitor, deserving of no special consideration as he moved into an industry he viewed as the future.

Whatever Mukesh’s motives, Jio sealed Anil’s fate. In 2019, Reliance Communications filed for bankruptcy.

For three days in early 2019, Room 6 in New Delhi’s stately Supreme Court building was packed. The crowd was there to gawk at something remarkable: Anil, no longer a billionaire, had been summoned to answer a criminal contempt charge. It stemmed from an ill-advised decision to personally guarantee an $80 million debt Reliance Communications owed a creditor, Swedish gearmaker Ericsson AB. Despite promising the court he would pay, Anil hadn’t.

The indignities began on the first day. Anil arrived early but for some reason didn’t have a seat, and he spent hours standing against a back wall. With the court enforcing a policy against using air conditioning in winter, and the bodies in the room driving the temperature to sweltering heights, he grew wan and disheveled, first removing the jacket of his excellently tailored suit and then his tie.

The two judges listened impassively as Anil’s lawyers argued that his promise Ericsson would be paid was contingent on an asset sale that had never been concluded. After they finished, he left without saying a word to the reporters shouting questions.

Anil returned a month later for the ruling, this time occupying a seat. The two judges entered, and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman read the verdict: guilty. For a moment it seemed that guards might take Anil directly to jail from the courtroom. But then Nariman reached the final point of the decision. “We are of the view,” he said, “that the contempt of this court needs to be purged by payment.” Anil, he continued, would be given a month to nullify the case by handing over the cash. The ruling shocked Anil, according to a person with knowledge of his reaction. He was so accustomed to getting his way, the person said, that he’d never expected the court to rule against him.

After round-the-clock negotiations that continued until days before Anil was to be taken into custody, he and Mukesh reached a deal. In a press release announcing the breakthrough, Anil was quoted thanking his brother for “staying true to our strong family values.” In exchange for Mukesh’s cash, people with knowledge of the agreement said, he surrendered a pair of 99-year leases on office buildings in Mumbai. Although the statement included several quotations from Anil, it had been drafted by Mukesh’s side, according to one of the people. The person said it wasn’t shown to Anil before it was published.

Anil probably shouldn’t have been so surprised by his loss in court. Since Modi was elected on a platform of economic reform, India’s government and courts have taken a much harder line with billionaires in financial trouble. The cheap loans from state-linked banks and fortuitously timed government contracts that many used to receive have disappeared, and in 2016 Modi’s party passed a bankruptcy law that made it harder to shield assets from angry creditors. The courts and law enforcement have also become much more severe with delinquent borrowers, even pursuing criminal charges when a default is suspected to have been intentional. Vijay Mallya, a fallen beer baron who once styled himself as India’s “King of Good Times,” is fighting extradition from the U.K. over such a case; two other industrialists, brothers Shashi and Ravi Ruia, recently lost control of a bankrupt steel mill after the Supreme Court ruled against them.

The Modi era has been far kinder to Mukesh, whose success flatters the vision of an investment-friendly, modernizing India the prime minister has sought to promote. Mukesh began developing a relationship with Modi in the 1990s, when the latter was an obscure party functionary. According to Ambani family aides, Mukesh rarely has to request a meeting with Modi; instead, he’s invited for regular consultations at the prime minister’s residence.

This favor may stem, too, from Mukesh’s habit of aligning Reliance explicitly with government goals. After Modi made the controversial decision last year to revoke the special constitutional status of Muslim-majority Kashmir, Reliance swiftly sent a team of 25 executives to the territory to explore potential investments. And Mukesh has pitched initiatives that complement Modi’s nationalist policies, such as a plan to keep Indian user information onshore to avoid what he calls “data colonization” by Westerners. Modi’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Mukesh has also capitalized on some crucial regulatory decisions. In 2016, Amazon.com Inc. announced plans to pour an additional $3 billion into India, betting it could consolidate a fragmented retail landscape. Two years later, Walmart Inc. spent $16 billion to buy Flipkart, India’s largest homegrown e-commerce player. But just after Walmart announced its deal, the government unveiled stringent new rules on online retail, forbidding foreign companies from selling their own inventory. Instead, they’d be allowed to operate only as EBay-style platforms for others’ goods. Both Amazon and Walmart had to pull thousands of items from their virtual Indian shelves.

A few weeks later, Mukesh made his move. Appearing alongside Modi at an event in Gujarat, he announced that Reliance would enter the online shopping business, combining its vast retail network—it operates almost 11,000 convenience stores, clothing outlets, jewelers, and supermarkets—with a comprehensive e-commerce offering. The idea is for these locations, plus thousands of small shops Mukesh said the company would “empower and enrich” by signing them up as fulfillment centers, to comprise a physical footprint Amazon and Walmart can’t replicate. And as a domestic player, Reliance isn’t bound by the same restrictions on online inventory. Over the past two years, the company’s shares have climbed 60%, driving its market value to $124 billion. Reliance is now India’s most valuable corporation by a comfortable margin.

Most recently, Mukesh’s digital strategy has found a fan in Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook’s deal in late April to buy about 10% of Jio Platforms, a division that includes Reliance’s mobile and e-commerce operations, was the U.S. company’s biggest acquisition since it bought WhatsApp in 2014. Working with Jio, Facebook executives said at the time of the announcement, could help turn WhatsApp, which is wildly popular in India and other emerging markets, into a retail platform as well. Other Silicon Valley players want a piece of the action: In the weeks since, several top-drawer U.S. investors, including KKR & Co. and Silver Lake Partners, have also bought stakes in Jio.

In business circles, Mukesh’s mounting success has inspired both awe and a certain amount of fear. During a recent meeting, an accomplished Mumbai lawyer flat-out refused to discuss any subject relating to India’s richest citizen, even with total anonymity. “The walls have ears,” the lawyer said.

Buoyed by his good fortune, Mukesh has come out of his shell, acquaintances say. For much of his career he avoided photographers and submitted to media interviews only grudgingly, fidgeting awkwardly on camera. Now he stays masterfully on message in interviews promoting Jio, and he’s a regular panelist at events such as the World Economic Forum and the Future Investment Initiative, Saudi Arabia’s “Davos in the Desert.” He and his wife, Nita, are increasingly the social anchors of high-society Mumbai. Before the pandemic struck, hardly a week went by without a major event at Antilia, their 27-story mansion in one of the city’s toniest districts. According to an acquaintance, Nita keeps an interior designer on the premises full time.

Anil, by contrast, has dropped almost entirely from view. Long a fitness buff, he’s in even better shape than usual, starting some mornings with a punishing 10-mile run. People who know him say he’s become more religious, praying at Hindu shrines with his mother and telling friends he now finds material success hollow compared with spiritual fulfillment. He’s still trying to turn things around, working as many as 14 hours a day to rescue his companies and protect his remaining assets. According to a person with knowledge of his situation, Anil has been advised to declare bankruptcy and start over. But he’s refused, the person says, believing that giving up could mean missing some unforeseen chance at a comeback.

In the meantime, the problems keep piling up. Another of Anil’s companies, a defense contractor he hoped would lead a turnaround, has entered bankruptcy. At a September shareholder meeting, a lawyer who said he’d lost most of the money he put into Anil’s businesses berated him with angry criticism and said he would try to put together a class-action investor lawsuit, though none has yet materialized. Anyone looking for a piece of Anil’s diminished fortune will have to get in line. He’s being pursued by more than a dozen creditors. Among them is a group of three state-controlled Chinese banks that loaned $925 million to Reliance Communications to build its new network in 2012 and recently sued him in London, claiming he personally guaranteed the debt.

In a February hearing, Anil argued he never provided a personal guarantee and had nothing to give the banks anyway. He said his current personal assets amounted to $9 million, set against liabilities of more than $300 million. Judge David Waksman, however, expressed doubt that Anil’s financial situation was really so dire. Given his access to a private jet, a yacht, and an 11-car motor pool, “there is good reason to suppose he is not being frank,” Waksman said. Besides, the judge continued, there was always the possibility of more assistance from Mukesh; any suggestion Anil’s brother couldn’t afford to help would be “absurd.”

In a statement read to the court, Anil disagreed. The fraternal bailout, he argued, was an event that wouldn’t be repeated. “I confirm I have made inquiries,” he said, “but I am unable to raise any finance from external sources.” —With Upmanyu Trivedi, Ravil Shirodkar, Jonathan Browning, Bhuma Shrivastava, and Archana Chaudhary

Courtesy – Bloomberg

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Post-Covid, Reverse Migration Can Spur Housing Demand in Tier 2-3 Cities https://theeasternlink.com/post-covid-reverse-migration-can-spur-housing-demand-in-tier-2-3-cities/ https://theeasternlink.com/post-covid-reverse-migration-can-spur-housing-demand-in-tier-2-3-cities/#respond Mon, 25 May 2020 06:45:51 +0000 https://theeasternlink.com/?p=4189

An Anarock Property Consultants Report Lucknow, Indore, Chandigarh, Kochi, Coimbatore, Jaipur & Ahmedabad likely to see reverse migration from off-rostered urban professionals NRIs looking to return to India amidst dwindling job prospects – particularly from US & Europe (nearly 70% global cases) Currently, top 7 cities account for almost 70% residential market; remaining 30% in Tier […]

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An Anarock Property Consultants Report

  • Lucknow, Indore, Chandigarh, Kochi, Coimbatore, Jaipur & Ahmedabad likely to see reverse migration from off-rostered urban professionals
  • NRIs looking to return to India amidst dwindling job prospects – particularly from US & Europe (nearly 70% global cases)
  • Currently, top 7 cities account for almost 70% residential market; remaining 30% in Tier 2 & 3 cities
  • Social distancing norms to increase per capita office space allocations (reduced from 100-125 sq. ft. in the last decade to 75-100 sq. ft. pre-COVID-19)

Indian real estate is bracing itself for a very new post-COVID-19 world. One significant trend may be reverse migration spurring housing demand in Tier 2 & 3 cities, says the ANAROCK report ‘India Real Estate: A Different World Post COVID-19’. Currently, the top 7 cities account for almost 70% of India’s residential market, with the remaining 30% accounted for in Tier 2 & 3 cities. This ratio may well change in times to come.

Cities like Lucknow, Indore, Chandigarh, Kochi, Coimbatore, Jaipur and Ahmedabad would be the main beneficiaries of the reverse migration of professionals who have lost their jobs in the metros, or are likely to. These returnees will benefit from the cost of living and superior infrastructure that many Tier 2 and Tier 3 provide. 

Anuj Puri, Chairman – ANAROCK Property Consultants says, “Reverse migration is already very visible among migrant labourers, and this trend can further percolate to skilled professionals who have been or may be off-rostered. Smaller towns and cities would consequently see a spurt in housing demand. Primary demand may skew towards rental housing – purchase demand would initially come from local investors keen to meet the rental demand. Many NRIs will also return to India amidst dwindling job prospects, particularly in the US and European nations which account for nearly 70% global cases. For them, the top 7 cities would be the best options but many will consider smaller cities where they can be close to their families. Finding suitable employment for reverse-migrating Indians in smaller cities may prove to be challenging.” 

  • ANAROCK’s recent consumer survey taken during the lockdown period indicates that of the respondents who preferred to invest in Tier 2 & 3 cities in 2020, 61% are end-users and almost 55% are aged under 35 years. At least 47% of respondents are focused on affordable properties priced within INR 45 lakh, followed by 34% who are looking for mid-segment homes priced between INR 45-90 lakh.
  • The residential segment will see a manifold increase in demand for townships projects which offer a controlled environment. In terms of supply, township projects have less than 5% overall share in the top 7 cities as on date.
  • Further market consolidation is expected with the increased preference for branded developers. Financially strong organized players are likely to occupy 75%-80% market share in the coming years.

Office & Retail Real Estate

Commercial Real Estate – In office real estate, social distancing norms may increase the per capita office space allocations even as a segment of employees will work from home. During the last decade, per capita office space allocation reduced from 100-125 sq. ft. to 75-100 sq. ft. in the pre-COVID-19 period of January 2020.

Safety and hygiene will become the top priority, even as contactless operations and automation will increase. Decentralization of operations to ensure business continuity will be a trend reversal from prominent consolidations over the past few years.

Retail Real Estate – In retail, online businesses will gain momentum – eCommerce giants have already added over 5,000 people to their delivery fleet during the lockdown period. Their consumer base expanded to senior citizens who have embraced technology in the COVID-19 era.

Mall revival will come with caveats. With hygiene and sanitation taking centre stage, malls which can offer these will benefit most in times to come.

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