Opportunities in APAC's Largest Economies: India, China and Indonesia

In this webinar session, Greenhouse.co invites Miguel Latorre, Nicholas Au, and Vishnu Krisna to talk about the opportunities of businesses in the three largest markets in the APAC (India, China, and Indonesia). This session will cover a few important talking points on; COVID-19 Implications on business opportunities, government support in light of the pandemic, foreign businesses’ main capital and investments, the challenges of making investments, the top 3 fast-growth industries, and conditions for foreign travels, all in respect to each country. This talk is moderated by Greenhouse’s COO Viktor Kyosev.

Opportunities in APAC

Key talking points:

Here are the insights from the discussion:

COVID-19 Implications on Business Opportunities in APAC

Expanding businesses across the globe is never a simple feat. The recent global pandemic will no doubt have implications on business activities, including expanding businesses. What are the opportunities that occur as a result of COVID across the Indonesian, Chinese, and Indian markets?

Business opportunities in India during COVID-19

India faces similar trends to Indonesia. When people are no longer allowed to actively go outside like they used to, they now rely on their electronics, and gadgets for their day to day activities. Therefore there has been positive growth in online industries. These include online services—cab hailing, food delivery, e-commerce— and online education. The Healthcare industry has also been seeing positive growth. COVID has woken India to a realization that they do not have sufficient healthcare infrastructure for its hospitals and medical supplies. This opened up opportunities for anyone who can provide this. Last, the government is pushing to incentivize manufacturing in India. They are inviting foreign companies to set up shop in India.

Business opportunities in China during COVID-19

In China, the most notable opportunities exist for IT, high-tech, and technology companies. Ever since the Trump administration put in stricter regulation for foreign investment, this has forced China to shift their focus from Outbound investment to Inbound investment. First, they lower the barrier for entry for foreign investments. They have revised their policies to incentivize investment to specific sectors to promote their growth, these are the sectors where the Chinese government is looking for investors. These revisions include discounted lands, streamlining the approval process, and improving tax incentives or subsidies.

Business opportunities in Indonesia during COVID-19

In the Indonesian market, the pandemic has recently contributed positively to the growth of online services and healthcare providers. On the downside, a lot of companies of all sizes have had to lay off many of their workers, and are now switching to outsource many of their services. This is a positive impact on service providers because now they can pick up after what has been a slow growth due to COVID.

What are the supports provided by the government in response to COVID-19?

The Indian government’s support in light of COVID-19

The Indian government has provided many supports in light of the situation. That includes; stimulus package in consideration of the percentage of GDP. For corporates, the support looks like; delaying all kinds of deadline be its tax filing, annual generating until the end of September, lowering corporate tax for new manufacturing companies, raising investments in some select sector like defense by boosting military equipment, or renewable energy.

The Chinese government’s support in light of COVID-19

In China, the government on top of providing support is also trying to expedite the process of already existing schemes. The government is trying to provide 3 additional free trade zones and help in ways like financial support by lowering the interest rates of loan for SMEs for the sake of better funding for these companies, tax incentives for industries primarily in the greater Bay Area–this scheme aims to connect the Guangdong and other cities to create Megacities, lowering corporate income tax from 25% to 15%, the Chinese government is encouraging employment by subsidizing firms so that they wouldn’t have to lay off their employees, and lastly they also provide subsidy for tech transformation and clean environment.

On top of that, they also aim to level the playing field between domestic companies and foreign enterprises. It is done through lessening the bureaucracy for foreign enterprises, giving more legal protection for foreign enterprises’ trademarks. Previously foreign companies have to have a presence in China, and the process of setting this up has to be done in China. Now the process is digitized to make it easier.

The Indonesian government’s support in light of COVID-19

In Indonesia, the support is quite different. One of them that garnered a lot of attention is the set up of Omnibus Law that will benefit foreign companies. There is unconfirmed information going around that the law is going to abolish minimum investment for foreign companies. Before that, the minimum is USD 650,000. Omnibus Law also helps erase confusion in some parts of the previous law. Other than that, the support given is giving tax incentives by reducing corporate income tax from 25% to 22% next year and to 20% in 2022. The government is also trying to bring manufacturing companies to Indonesia from China, and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Foreign Businesses’ Main Capital and Investments.
What is the main capital invested for the foreign business? What is the expected investment that the foreigners can make?

In China, previously the minimum capital requirement to open a wholly-owned is 500.000 RMB. Now, no minimum capital is required for foreigners. The consideration to be aware of is that the Chinese authorities would like to see how much capital you are putting in as an initial injection to ensure and justify that the company could manage its operations for one year. It should be well-thought depends on the industry.

In India, there is no difference in the minimum capital requirement for foreigners and local companies. Depending on the nature of the business, they need to be able to understand the capital you will lead until they start to playback the revenues. In fact, for months, it couldn’t be enough, that’s why the company’s needs must be seriously thought of.

Apart from that, every company in India requires a local director. This person must be of Indian descent and has been living in India for a long time. Now, every process of the investment can be done online such as for the registration form.

What is the biggest challenge in making investment in each country?

The challenges of making investments in India

As a consultant in India, we need to manage so that we can have the background of the company that wants to be incorporated. Without it, we can’t do our further actions which go along with what our clients want.

Opening a bank account in India is a challenge because of the Basel convention, stricter norms, lots of documents required to open corporate accounts even for the local banks.

As soon as the investment is being made, the corporate should allocate shares and start using the funds. The FBI Reporting is challenging because we are supposed to get a swift message from foreign or Indian bank.

In terms of business registration, though this does not apply to every company, there is one authority called Bureaus of Indian Standards (BIS) for a safety point of view. All product licensing has to be certified and the process is not that simple, slightly time-consuming. For example, for food certification licenses, there are testing labs, labels, and license number, etc.

The challenges of making investments in China

In China, relating to requirements behind forming the company: bank account opening. You must maintain the company whole-heartedly once the business is set up and pay serious attention to annual compliance such as monthly quarterly annual tax filing and relationship with employees. There is not too much transparency, resulting in foreigners often getting the rules mixed up. Finding a physical office space to work in China is hard. This poses a real challenge especially when the requirement of incorporating a company includes a registered office address. During the initial incorporation, a virtual address is allowed, but the Chinese government forces them to move to the physical office space. There are going to be ad-hoc tests to examine that these companies have a physical address.

The restricted NAD list is a group of industries in which the government imposes a special foreign investment restriction for certain industries: financial holding ratios, acquiring approvals, business licenses. There are a lot of requests for incorporation in China but the most complicated one is the ability to find local partners.

A lot of banks are trying to accommodate virtual bank openings via apps but they’re still in their early stages of implementation. Regarding KYC procedure and actual Due Diligence, those processes are not that difficult, and the only thing to be aware of is the travel restrictions that can influence your plans.

The challenges of making investments in Indonesia

In Indonesia, it is sort of evolving and getting better. In general, the regulatory environment is not very clear and structured, especially for the current issue of Omnibus Law. There are a lot of uncertainties. The bureaucracy inefficiency which leads to corruption is much more under control nowadays.

In the process of opening a bank account, there are more documents required and the process itself is getting more complicated. Product registration issues such as for foods and cosmetics are getting a lot more heavily regulated for its licensing.

Furthermore, about the cultural differences, you cannot make assumptions on their characteristics, you need more understanding and find the right talent for your business. In Indonesia, a country with a big population, it needs to be more secure for Indonesians, a shortage of employment is a real issue in the country.

What are the top 3 fast-growth industries in each country?

The top 3 fast-growing industries in India

In India, the online industry in general (e-commerce) is growing phenomenally and so is the IT technology industries.

The top 3 Fast-growing industries in China

In China, it is leaning towards IT, the digital economy, manufacturing, and high-end electronic hardware. Even the government is providing preferential tax to those specific industries. There is also interest in cloud computing and AI, but the interest in these industries is more of a continuation of past trends. This rapid growth of the industry lowers the barriers to entry due to its huge demand in their domestic consumer base.

The top 3 Fast-growing industries in Indonesia

In Indonesia, the digital economy by 2025 is expected to be worth 150 million dollars. E-commerce is growing exponentially, optimistically reaching 400 billion this year. The top three e-commerce sectors are telemedicine, online education, and online electronic payments.

On the other hand, infrastructure also contributes a lot since road facilities are very much needed in Indonesia, so the investment in this industry reaches 350 billion dollars. It contributes 20% of the GDP and could rise to 25%. There is massive support from the government in regards to the manufacturing industry by facilitating the acquisition, in support of foreign manufacturers.

Additionally, the healthcare sector is also growing, it is a very needed sector even before COVID-19 and currently, the need for it is amplified.

Can foreigners travel or visit your country? In what conditions?

Conditions for foreign travels to India

International travel is a difficult proposition. India has an Air Bubble Arrangements. As long as you have valid reasons (mostly business-related), people from the bubble region can travel to India. Isolation and self-quarantine are needed by the time of arrival. There is no problem with domestic travel.

Conditions for foreign travels to China

In Hong-Kong and China, it truly depends on which country you are traveling from. The Chinese government has been quite transparent on how their plan is going but currently, there are positive signs of the Chinese government opening more restrictions to have a better economic cycle but still complying with the health protection.

Conditions for foreign travels to Indonesia

It is impossible unless you hold the KITAS and the working permit. We are allowed to travel within Indonesia with the presence of the Rapid Test.

Conclusion

Indonesia, India, and China are generally places where people are looking into when they’re thinking of expanding their business. The three often share the same characteristics; large population, large growth in GDP, and a growing middle class, to name a few. On top of being APAC’s largest markets, the three also offer very exciting opportunities for some sectors to take advantage of. These are sectors like e-commerce that are growing exponentially in said countries, IT, and manufacturing. These sectors might even enjoy the benefits of the preferential tax, or lowered tax in many cases.

Despite the usual challenges one may find in expanding to newer markets, the recent changes in policies and governance of the three countries can be of help to foreign businesses that are looking to expand their wings to the biggest part of Asia. Should the opportunity arise, Greenhouse.co can help with your market entry strategy. Making what usually is a complicated and difficult process, way easier with the help of our services.

Watch the full webinar session here:

Since April, at Greenhouse we’ve have been working closely with our network of service providers and partners across Southeast Asia to launch a series of webinars on topics like:

  • Adaptation to COVID-19
  • Business opportunities
  • Fast-growth markets
  • Market entry strategy
  • Opportunities in emerging markets
  • Venture Capital

Reach out to us for any questions about this session!

All experts who have shared on this panel are actually partners of Greenhouse, and their company profiles are listed on our platform. To see a comprehensive profile of each company and approach them, click here

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