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Challenges and Opportunities Emerge as India Becomes Third-Largest Consumer Market by 2030

MD Staff

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In coming decades, consumption growth and the Fourth Industrial Revolution will create tremendous opportunities in the emerging Indian market. During 2018, extensive proprietary research was conducted on India, the world’s largest democracy, and among the world’s fastest growing economies. The World Economic Forum’s new report, Future of Consumption in Fast-Growth Consumer Market – INDIA identifies key forces that will shape consumption in India and is a call to action for multistakeholder collaboration to build an inclusive future for the country.

“As India continues its path as one of the world’s most dynamic consumption environments, private and public-sector leaders will have to take shared accountability to ensure such consumption is inclusive and responsible. I am confident that strategic foresight from this report will contribute to inspiring action and realizing a prosperous future for India with sustainable benefits for both business and society,” said Zara Ingilizian, Head of Consumer Industries and Member of Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.

With an annual GDP growth rate of 7.5%, India is currently the world’s sixth-largest economy. By 2030, domestic private consumption, which accounts for 60% of the country’s GDP, is expected to develop into a $6 trillion growth opportunity. If realized, this would make India’s consumer market the third-largest in the world, behind the US and China.

The future of consumption in India in 2030 is anchored in rising incomes and a broad-based pattern of growth and benefit sharing. It is anticipated that the growth of the middle class will lift nearly 25 million households out of poverty. In addition, India will have 700 million millennials and Gen Z consumers, who have grown up in a more open and confident country.

By 2030, there will be opportunities to bypass Western growth trajectories, such as those presented by more than 1 billion internet users, many of whom will only use mobile platforms, driving the need for business model innovation. Finally, future consumption growth will come from the “many Indias” – the diverse, rich and densely populated cities and the thousands of geographically dispersed, developed rural towns.

This positive vision for the future of India will only materialize if business and policy-makers pursue an inclusive approach to the country’s economic and, hence, consumption growth.

“As India rapidly transforms into a true middle class economy, not only do we see this income group finally coming into its own, we also see the inclusivity and equitable growth agendas being served much better than ever before. It’s an exciting future for firms that wish to unlock the consumption opportunity in India,” as stated by Nikhil Prasad Ojha, Partner and Leader of the Strategy practice at Bain India.

To unlock the potential of these opportunities and to ensure equitable growth, the report identified three critical societal challenges that need to be addressed:

  1. Skills development and employment for the future workforce

As nearly 10-12 million working-age people emerge in India over the next decade, the country faces a huge challenge in providing the workforce with the right skills and gainful employment to enable the income growth behind the envisioned consumption of the future. More than one-half of Indian workers will require reskilling by 2022 to meet the talent demands of the future. On average, they will each require an extra 100 days of learning. Industry, civil society, education institutions and policy-makers need to join efforts to close the current skills gap.

  1. Socio-economic inclusion of rural India

By 2030, 40% of Indians will be urban residents. There will, however, be more than 5,000 small urban towns and more than 50,000 developed rural towns with similar income profiles, where aspirations are fast converging with those of urban India. Nevertheless, physical connectivity, digital connectivity and financial inclusion income is constraining the spending and well-being of rural dwellers, and these “access-barriers” need to be addressed to ensure social and economic inclusion in India over the next decade.

  1. Healthy and sustainable future

New health concerns, such as obesity and non-communicable diseases, and urban centres grappling with high rates of congestion and air, water and waste pollution are undermining the well-being of India’s citizens. As an illustration of the magnitude of just one dimension of the air-water-waste-congestion challenge, nine of the world’s 10 most air-polluted cities are in India, including its capital, New Delhi. To sustain future growth, business and policy-makers must take the initiative on improving health and liveability for India’s citizens by providing them with access to affordable healthcare, promoting sustainable development, and seeking solutions to urban congestion.

“India is at a tipping point, both in terms of economic growth and in the human development of its billion-plus citizens. As the country enters a new era of envisioned growth, collaborative efforts, especially public-private collaborations to address key challenges can unlock the full potential of a young, progressive and dynamic nation to establish India as a model for the world’s fast-growing consumer markets” said Mayuri Ghosh, Project Lead, Future of Consumption System Initiative, World Economic Forum.

The report produced in collaboration with Bain & Company builds on in-depth consumer surveys conducted across 5,100 households in 30 cities and towns in India, and draws from more than 40 interviews with private and public-sector leaders.

This report is part of a multi-year project “Future of Consumption in Fast-Growth Consumer Markets”, which focuses on the evolution of consumption in emerging markets, such as China and India. The report provides foresight on drivers of growth and levers of inclusivity in such markets, and establishes priorities for private and public-sector stakeholders, with the ultimate objective of shaping consumption-led inclusive growth in emerging markets.

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China needs further reforms to make growth sustainable, greener and more inclusive

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The Chinese economy continues to slow as it rebalances, with headwinds including trade frictions and the weakening global economy undermining exports and creating new uncertainties. Policy should focus on long-term strategies to move the economy towards greater domestic consumption and services, enhancing economic efficiency and ensuring that future growth is sustainable, greener and more inclusive, according to a new report from the OECD.

The latest OECD Economic Survey of China looks at the factors behind the economic slowdown as well as policies that can boost the quality of future growth and ensure that it is more equitably distributed. Despite the slowdown, the Survey projects growth above 6% this year and next, and sees continuing convergence with more advanced economies.  

The Survey, presented in Beijing by OECD Deputy Secretary-General Ludger Schuknecht, underlines the rising financial risks from high corporate debt and recommends that China prioritises the creation of a single product and labour market to boost productivity and inclusiveness.

“China continues to be the major driver of world economic growth and convergence with advanced economies continues, despite the slowdown,” Mr Schuknecht said. “Yet China is at a crossroads, facing serious domestic and external challenges to maintaining its strong position over the long-term. Policy should seek to ensure a better functioning economy that delivers stable and inclusive growth for all.”

The Survey underlines the need for more balanced trade and investment. Policy should aim to further lower import tariffs and dismantle non-tariff barriers and barriers on the entry and conduct of foreign firms, in particular requirements to form joint ventures or transfer technology.

While much has been done to address financial risks, China’s ongoing fiscal stimulus should avoid directing credit to state-owned enterprises and local governments, the Survey said. Debt ceilings should take into account sub-national government revenues.

Prudent fiscal policy should channel funds to areas where returns are highest, such as education, health and social security systems, while avoiding misallocation of capital by allowing banks to better price risks. Risk perception could be sharpened by orderly defaults. The quality, coverage and timeliness of fiscal reporting can be improved, the Survey said.

The Survey sees wide scope to improve efficiency across the economy, notably by reducing the internal barriers that hinder product market competition and labour mobility. Strengthening the rule of law, restricting the power of administrative departments and providing clear and detailed implementation rules limiting their discretionary powers would reduce protectionism at the local level. Anti-monopoly rules and enforcement can be strengthened and public procurement processes could be made more transparent, technology-neutral and open to all players.

Other measures to boost economic efficiency highlighted by the Survey include stronger protection of intellectual property rights; gradual removal of implicit guarantees to state-owned enterprises, allowing them to default; and reduction of state ownership in commercially-oriented, non-strategic sectors.

To ensure equal opportunities, the Survey recommends China to distribute more evenly high-quality education and health care in order to reduce incentives to move to mega-cities. Gradually easing restrictions on access to public services for city residents without the hukou (residency permit) and eventually delinking service provision from the hukou would also help improve equity. Centralised financing of key spending items, such as wage bills in education and health, reforms to the floor and ceiling for social security contributions and wider tax reform should be pursued.

To make growth greener, the Survey suggests China enforce environmental regulations more strictly, raise fines for polluters and boost environmental taxation, particularly on fossil fuels. Putting an end to the construction of coal-fired power plants and increasing investment in pollution treatment facilities, urban water treatment and rural sanitation is also necessary.

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Bhutan’s Economy to Moderately Grow in 2019 and 2020 on Strong Hydropower and Tourism Outlooks

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Economic growth in Bhutan is forecast to strengthen moderately, buoyed by the industry and services sectors, according to a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.

The Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2019, ADB’s flagship annual economic publication, forecasts the economy to grow at 5.7% this year and 6.0% in 2020. This is following the slipping of growth for a second year running to 5.5% in fiscal year (FY) 2018 on slower hydropower construction and temporary decline in electric power production.

“The expected commissioning of the Mangdechhu hydropower plant, strengthening of private spending, and increased government spending following the formation of a new government to implement the Twelfth Five-Year Plan will greatly contribute to growth,” said ADB Country Director for Bhutan Ms. Kanokpan Lao-Araya. “Inflationary pressure is anticipated following the recent announcement of expected pay rise of the public servants in Bhutan. A downside risk to growth forecasts would be any further delay in commissioning or lower-than-expected production capacity of the Mangdechhu hydropower plant.”

Inflation is expected to rise moderately from 3.6% in FY2018 to 3.8% in FY2019 before edging up to 4.0% in FY2020 as initial benefits from India’s goods and service tax (GST) taper and Indian inflation trends higher. Lower international oil price forecasts will help keep inflation at bay, but the planned revisions to civil service salaries and minimum wage might push up inflation, once implemented.

Current account deficit will continue to narrow further to a forecast of 16.9% of gross domestic product in FY2019, mainly on declining imports with the slowing of hydropower construction and a 6-month hiatus in capital expenditure as the country transitioned to a new administration. It is expected to shrink further in FY2020, as higher imports because of the picking up of government investment is offset by high export revenue from the full-year operation of the Mangdechhu hydropower plant.

Strengthening domestic resources toward better funding of development remains a challenge. With the expected graduation of Bhutan from the United Nations’ least developed country status in 2023, access to concessional official development assistance will increasingly be limited. Reforms have been undertaken to strengthen the mobilization of revenues to fund development. These include the creation of a stabilization fund to ensure even distribution of expenditure, a GST regime which is planned to be adopted in 2020, and reforms on provision of fiscal incentives. Fiscal incentives have been costly for the government with forgone revenue amounting to 17% of tax collected in 2017 only. Reduction of fiscal incentives, particularly tax reforms could be explored to raise government revenues, discourage the entry of footloose opportunists, while not deterring investors who see solid business opportunities in the country. Further, Bhutan needs to simplify the provision and administration of incentives without compromising the level of investment. As a complement to revenue reforms, public financial management needs further strengthening to ensure the proper collection and administration of revenue.

ADB has been supporting Bhutan since 1982, with strong emphasis on renewable energy production, transport connectivity, and key urban infrastructure projects. ADB has committed loans totaling $534.06 million, grants worth $269.22 million, and technical assistance amounting to $53.75 million for Bhutan. In 2018, it approved four projects, including two grant projects focusing on human resource development, particularly on skills and health development. Overall assistance aims to help generate revenue, support inclusive growth, and promote environmental sustainability.

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SMEs turning to alternative financing instruments as growth slows in bank lending

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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are turning to non-bank financing sources at a faster pace than in the past, as bank lending to them has risen less than expected given today’s favourable credit conditions and business environment.

Financing SMEs and Entrepreneurs 2019: An OECD Scoreboard finds that online peer-to-peer lending and equity crowdfunding increased significantly in 2017, especially in countries with small markets. China, the United Kingdom and the United States continued to have the biggest online alternative finance markets for businesses. Venture capital investments were up in most countries, and the number of SME listings expanded by more than 13% in 2017, with total SME market capitalisation up 16.7%.

SMEs and entrepreneurs constitute the backbone of OECD economies, accounting for 60% of total employment and 50-60% of value added. They are key to strengthening productivity, delivering inclusive growth and helping economies adapt to changes like the digital transition, ageing populations and the changing future of work. This eighth annual edition of the OECD’s SME financing Scoreboard provides data on debt, equity, asset-based finance and financing conditions in 46 countries and an overview of policy measures to ease SMEs’ access to finance.

“Uptake of alternative financing instruments by SMEs is growing like never before, while bank lending to SMEs is growing less strongly. We need to monitor these developments closely to ensure that SMEs are well-equipped to invest and contribute to productivity growth,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, launching the Scoreboard in Washington alongside Chilean Central Bank Governor Mario Marcel on the margins of the IMF/World Bank Spring meetings.

“Policy makers around the world have a key role to play to increase SME access to a diverse set of financing instruments. We are glad that the policy initiatives of the government of Chile are successfully strengthening access to credit and equity for SMEs, and reducing payment delays,” said Governor Marcel.

The 2019 Scoreboard finds that asset-based financing also grew, with leasing and hire purchase activities up by a median rate of 6.2%.

SME loans grew at a median of close to 5% in a majority of middle income countries in 2017, while SME lending stagnated in the United States and the United Kingdom, and fell in European countries most affected by the financial crisis over the same period.

Credit conditions and interest rates remained favourable. The median value of the average interest rate charged to SMEs fell for the 7th year in a row, and SME bankruptcies dropped for the fourth consecutive year in 2017. On the other hand, some segments of SMEs continued to face difficulties in accessing finance. This is the case in particular for micro-enterprises, innovative ventures, start-ups and young firms.

Countries continued to do more to foster SME access to bank and alternative sources of finance by adapting regulations and introducing targeted policies to support Fintech. Credit guarantees, the most widespread instrument to ease SMEs’ access to finance, have been expanded in scale and volume, and better targeted to specific firms. The OECD is working to further expand the evidence base on SME access to finance and support governments in improving their policies in this area.

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