The finance minister announced that the Foreign Investments Promotion Board (FIPB) would be abolished in 2017-18 and that the government will be announcing a new roadmap for foreign direct investments (FDI) for further reforms. The FIPB is fast-track unit set up by the government of India to look into FDI proposals. Recently the government relaxed FDI rule of mandatory 30% local sourcing for brands looking to open single retail stores in India. But this relaxation is only being offered to products that are “state-of-art and cutting edge’ technology. Over the years, several mobile/smartphone manufacturers like Lenovo, Xiaomi, LeEco and Apple have applied for a single brand license. However, these proposals are pending including Apple’s, which is vying the Indian smartphone market as its next big investment. Abolishing FIPB does not necessarily mean that these companies will move an inch closer to opening their own stores. Jaitley did not elaborate on FDI regulations that would replace functions taken up by FIPB. But removing FIPB from the scenario could mean two things: i)Local sourcing norms for single-brand retail could be tweaked, removed or at least reduced. ii)Smartphone brands like Apple, Xiaomi looking to open single-brand stores could have special considerations and rebates within the current FDI and local sourcing norms. *** The budget also proposed a Rs 745 crore incentive for electronic manufacturing in the country through Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) and Electronic Development Fund (EDF). Government incentives for electronics manufacturing will provide an additional stimulant to smartphone manufacturers, especially foreign…
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