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Further relaxation of FDI cap in retail sector sought

Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: The U.S. will take up with Indian Government the need for relaxing FDI (foreign direct investment) ceiling in retail sector to open up more opportunities for American businesses here.

Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services for International Trade Administration, U.S. Commerce Department, who is leading the first franchising trade mission to India, told reporters here on Wednesday that she would discuss the issue with Indian officials for loosening the cap on FDI in retail sector. Removing the restrictions on multi-brand retail would provide more options for Indian consumers, she added.

Franchise market

She said the franchise market in India was estimated to be worth $3.3 billion and growing at an impressive rate of about 30 per cent. Over 700 franchise systems were already operating in the country and around 10 per cent of them were run by international companies. She said franchising was expected to grow its share within retail until it represents 50 per cent of overall organised retail trade.

The participating companies in the trade mission include some of the most successful U.S. franchises including Applebee's, BannaStrow's Crepes & Coffee, CKE Restaurants-Carl's Jr., Molly Maid, Rita's Italian Ice and Moe's Southwest Grill. The U.S. commercial service had assisted numerous franchises to enter the Indian market such as Curves for Women and Crestcom.

She said U.S. exports to India in 2010 were $19.2 billion, an increase of 17 per cent, mirroring U.S. global export growth of 17 per cent.Ms. Nicole listed clean energy, water treatment, aerospace and nuclear as some of the focus areas for U.S. exports to India.

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