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Singapore tops the list of destinations for Indian FDI outflows: Assocham
Singapore has emerged among the most sought-after destinations for India's outward foreign direct investment (FDI) accounting for about one-fourth of the total outflows during the month of May 2012, a study by the industry lobby group Assocham has revealed.

OF THE total outbound FDI of USD 2.35 billion from the country, Singapore accounted for over USD 500 million. The other favorite destinations for the Indian entrepreneurs were the US, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, UAE, Philippines and Mauritius.

Interestingly, while Mauritius is the number one source of FDI into India, it is not the case for the outflows, the study found. It is somewhere at the bottom of the table of the countries preferred by the Indian firms for overseas investment.

Out of the 467 companies which invested abroad, only 24 opted for Mauritius, a haven for the corporates that want to bring in FDI because of the India-Mauritius Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement. Since the island nation has zero capital gains, it makes sense for the inward FDI from there, rather than outward FDI for India, says the Assocham study.

“Even there is a glum mood in the world economy; the Indian entrepreneurs are reaching out to the global business arena. This shows how the Indian enterprise is catching up in the international economy,” said Assocham's President Rajkumar N Dhoot in a release.

Unlike the domestic turf where the services sector dominates the country’s economy, the Indian industry is looking for the maximum opportunities in the area of manufacturing when it comes to investing abroad, found the Assocham paper.

Out of 467 Indian firms which went offshore in search of greener pastures, about 138 opted for investing in the manufacturing sector, followed by services. In the services sector close to 100 Indian companies put their money in the foreign ventures.

Interestingly, the Assocham study found that even when the Indian government has not opened the FDI in multi-brand retail, as many 68 domestic companies went and invested abroad in the broad category of wholesale, retail, hotels and restaurants.

“This is certainly a pointer to us. It would not be possible for India to keep its doors shut for the FDI in retail which is a very vibrant sector of the economy. It gives multiplier results to the employment generation rather than taking away the existing jobs, as is being made out,” added  Dhoot.

He also said that one of the plausible reasons for a vibrant level of outward FDI is the assets going cheap and being available at attractive valuations.

“The Tatas for instance, have gone to the UK and established a solid manufacturing base there through takeovers. Likewise, several other Indian companies have gone global. What is pertinent, several of the Indian medium sized companies in the areas of retail, wholesale, manufacturing and transportation have gone as far as Ethiopia, in Europe and in Latin America to scout for assets offshore,” said the Assocham chief.

Assocham, however, clarified that the study does not suggest at all as if Indian companies are not happy doing business home. Rather, it suggests there are opportunities available abroad at very attractive valuations.

In the case of services, the industry body's study found, that healthcare, information technology and asset management, were the prominent areas of interest for the Indian entrepreneurs going abroad.

In the manufacturing sector, the outward FDI was finding assets in the areas of pharmaceuticals, shipyards, metals, engineering and textiles. In services, India has made its mark but there is a need to scale up the value chain, the study found.

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