Methods of Payment
Import financing procedures adhere to western business practices. The safest method of receiving payments is through an irrevocable letter of credit (L/C). The L/C should be payable in favor of the supplier against presentation of shipping documents through the importer's bank. Importers open L/C's valid for three to six months depending upon the terms of the agreement. Typically L/C's are opened for a period of time to cover production and shipping, and they are normally paid within seven working days of the receipt of goods. There are several lines of credit available to U.S companies.
The most important source for finance for the corporate sector continues to be the capital markets. Companies are not required to obtain prior permission from the GOI to access capital markets, but it is compulsory for companies to obtain Reserve Bank of India?s permission before issuing any shares to a non-resident investor. Indian companies can also issue American Depository Receipts (ADR) and Global Depository Receipts (GDR) without any value limits. Several steps have been taken to improve liquidity in the ADR / GDR market abroad. Indian companies are increasingly accessing overseas markets to raise finances through these instruments.
Commercial banks continue to be the main source of short-term finance and working capital requirements of Indian firms. Indian Companies also raise funds by issuing commercial paper and debentures, from inter-corporate borrowings, and by accepting public deposits. Several term-lending public financial institutions provide local and foreign exchange loans for new capital investment projects. They also provide deferred payment loans, long-term working capital finance, export credit and stock underwriting services. Lending banks secure their loans with company assets, corporate guarantees from a parent company, and, in some cases, by personal guarantees from company directors.
Local and resident foreign companies are permitted to raise medium-to-long-term loans in foreign currency for projects requiring capital equipment, technology imports, or the purchase of aircraft or ships. The Indian government permits borrowing through suppliers? credits, buyers? credits, syndicated loans, floating-rate notes, revolving underwriting facilities and bonds. The RBI permits loans, which mature within one year, to be repaid from net foreign exchange earnings without prior government approval.
Loans in foreign currencies can be obtained through foreign commercial banks, overseas financial institutions (e.g., the International Finance Corporation and the Asian Development Bank), and foreign export-credit agencies, in addition to Indian development and commercial banks. Indian companies can also raise foreign currency loans in accordance with the guidelines for External Commercial Borrowings (ECB's), issued by the Ministry of Finance. There are no restrictions on the use of such loans, except that they cannot be used for stock market speculation. Once the RBI and Ministry of Finance have approved a loan and its terms, no limitations are placed on interest and principal payments. A firm, however, must report to the RBI through its designated banker every time an interest payment is effected.
How the Banking System Operates
India has an extensive banking network, in both urban and rural areas. The banking system has three tiers. These are: the scheduled commercial banks; the regional rural banks, which operate in rural areas, not covered by the scheduled banks; and the cooperative and special purpose rural banks. Timely availability of adequate credit is of utmost importance for the development of the Indian rural economy and agriculture. At present Regional Rural Banks, commercial banks and credit cooperatives, encouraged mainly by the Government, undertake this function. The Government of India, during the recent budget, announced that it would encourage private banks to open branches in rural areas, to service both farm and non-farm sectors.
There are approximately 80 scheduled commercial banks, Indian and foreign; almost 200 regional rural banks; more than 350 central cooperative banks, 20 land development banks; and a number of primary agricultural credit societies. Large Indian banks, and most Indian financial institutions are in the public sector. Though public sector banks (27 of them) currently dominate the banking industry, numerous private and foreign banks exist. Several public sector banks are being restructured, and in some cases the government either has already reduced, or is in the process of reducing its ownership. In terms of business, the state-owned banks account for more than 70 percent of deposits and loans. Private banks handle 17 percent of the market, and foreign banks located in metropolitan area account for approximately 13 percent of the market.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is the central banking institution. It is the sole authority for issuing bank notes and the supervisory body for banking operations in India. It supervises and administers exchange control and banking regulations, and administers the government's monetary policy. It is also responsible for granting licenses for new bank branches. The Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation, an organization promoted and fully funded by the RBI, offers deposit insurance facilities. The RBI directs banks to meet Bureau of Indian Standards guidelines. Indian banks must also adhere to the prudential norms laid down by the Basel Group.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) also sets India's exchange-control policy and administers foreign exchange regulations in consultation with the GOI. India's foreign exchange control regime is governed by the FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act), enacted with the objective of facilitating external trade and payments and for promoting the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India, and to give effect to the liberalization announced in the economic policies.
THE EXPORT-IMPORT BANK OF THE UNITED STATES
The Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) is the official export credit agency of the United States and supports the purchase of U.S. goods and services by creditworthy Indian buyers that may have difficulty obtaining credit through traditional financing sources. Ex-Im Bank provides U.S. exporters with the financing tools they need to successfully compete for business in India. Ex-Im Bank support gives protection against international political and commercial risk, and gives U.S. exporters the ability to offer competitive financing to their Indian buyers through export credit insurance and loan guarantees. Over the past 70 years, Ex-Im Bank has supported more than $400 billion of U.S. exports worldwide.
For more info on ExIm Bank please visit website: http://(www.exim.gov).
THE OVERSEAS PRIVATE INVESTMENT CORPORATION
OPIC is an independent U.S. government agency whose mission is to mobilize and facilitate the participation of U. S. private capital and skills in the economic and social development of less developed countries and areas, and countries in transition from non-market to market economies. OPIC assists U.S. companies by providing financing (from large structured finance to small business loans), political risk insurance, and investment funds. OPIC complements the private sector in managing risks associated with foreign direct investment and supports U.S. foreign policy. OPIC was established as an agency of the U.S. government in 1971 and currently does business in over 150 countries.
For more info on OPIC please visit website: http://www.opic.gov/
U.S. TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (USTDA)
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle income countries. The agency funds various forms of technical assistance, feasibility studies, training, orientation visits and business workshops that support the development of a modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment. USTDA's strategic use of foreign assistance funds to support sound investment policy and decision-making in host countries creates an enabling environment for trade, investment and sustainable economic development. Operating at the nexus of foreign policy and commerce, USTDA is uniquely positioned to work with U.S. firms and host countries in achieving the agency's trade and development goals. In carrying out its mission, USTDA gives emphasis to economic sectors that may benefit from U.S. exports of goods and services.
For more information, please visit: www.ustda.gov
ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK (ADB)
Asia's premier non-profit financial institution, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), is headquartered in Manila, Philippines. The ADB's major objective is the promotion of the social and economic well being of its developing member countries in Asia and the Pacific. This is achieved by lending funds to projects involving agriculture, energy, industry, transportation, and communication, as well as for social infrastructure projects such as water supply, sewage and sanitation, education, health and urban development. The ADB also invests in, and lends to, the private sector for Build-Own-Operate (BOO) and Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) infrastructure, industrial and capital market development projects and mobilizes additional resources through co-financing arrangements, including the bank?s credit enhancement instruments such as guarantees and complementary financing plans.
To learn more about ADB?s partnership with India, please visit: http://www.adb.org/Documents/Fact_Sheets/IND.pdf
The U.S. Department of Commerce maintains a Congressionally mandated Commercial Liaison Office for the ADB (CS ADB). The Office's mission is to help American firms access, enter and expand in Asian markets that benefit from ADB assistance. The office provides counseling, advocacy, project information, and conducts outreach programs in the region as well as in the U.S. to help U.S. firms take advantage of commercial opportunities in countries borrowing from the ADB. To perform its mandate, the office cooperates with the U.S. Director's Office at ADB and works closely with Commercial Service posts in the region. An American Senior Commercial Officer heads the office, assisted by two Commercial Specialists.
THE WORLD BANK
The World Bank Group is one of the world's largest sources of development assistance. The World Bank supports the efforts of developing country governments to build schools and health centers, provide water and electricity, fight disease, and protect the environment. The "World Bank" is the name that has come to be used for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). Together these organizations provide low-interest loans, interest-free credit, and grants to developing countries.
On World Bank engagement with India, please visit: http://www.worldbank.org.in/
The World Bank's New Delhi office has an active public information center with a large collection of World Bank and other publications on India and international development, and documents on projects financed by the Bank. In recent years, the World Bank?s IBRD has been giving support for India?s economic policy reforms and expanded social and environmental programs.
The U.S. Department of Commerce maintains a Commercial Liaison Office at the World Bank. The Office's mission is to help American firms access, enter and expand in markets that benefit from World Bank assistance. The office provides counseling, advocacy, project information, and conducts outreach programs in the region as well as in the U.S. to help U.S. firms take advantage of commercial opportunities in countries borrowing from the World Bank.