Doing Business: Exporting your Business to India

Thanks to the exchange rate, travellers in India are often assumed to be rich foreigners, and are trailed by beggers and salesmen whenever they visit the country. Of course, that’s no bad thing when you are trying to build a business in India – especially when your end goal is to be just that; a rich foreigner. With Brexit turning more eyes to India than ever before, now is your chance to make your mark by building a business in India and Fastlane is here to tell you how.

Why India?

Like China, which Fastlane has already discussed, India is a rapidly growing market. In fact, the rate of growth in India has, at times, surpassed that of China in the last few years. What does this mean? Opportunity! When there is such significant growth in an area, it means that there are new niches and market share to pursue.

And thanks to a long standing relationship with the United Kingdom, there are fewer challenges in establishing your business in India than you might expect. English is the language of business, so there’s no need to worry about the language barrier and, thanks to the shared history, India shares many common laws with UK.

Shipping to India

The UK sends over £6 billion in goods to India every year, so you may face plenty of competition when it comes to building your own business. Even so, India is an enormous country, and with so much space, there’s room for your business too.

With that in mind, it’s still best to understand what you are up against. The main exports from the UK to India include electrical machinery and equipment, cars and car parts, and organic chemicals. British cars and car parts are a market that is growing particularly quickly, so despite the popularity, there may be room for more businesses in the niche. Other common exports to India include:

  • mineral fuels and oils
  • gems and precious metals
  • machinery, mechanical appliances, reactors and boilers
  • iron and steel
  • plastics
  • animal or vegetable fats and oils
  • fertilisers
  • medical, optical, photographic, measuring, precision, medical or surgical equipment

As one of the fastest growing markets in the world, India is a particularly important destination for exporters around the world. As such, there is plenty of information about what the country imports, along with information about the most valuable imports. Always remember to do your research!

Rush hour people movement during Lathmaar Holi Barsana

Getting Started in Shipping to India

In fact, doing your research is key to getting started. As it is such a large country, India is made up of 29 smaller states, each of which could be considered a separate country in terms of approach. Because each state is uniquely made up and has its own market needs and desires, it’s vital to make sure that you are exporting to the right area for your goods.

Because things can be so different, it is often recommended that you make a visit to the area you’re targeting in person as well as doing online research. By visiting the area, you can make contacts, build face-to-face relationships and build the groundwork for your business to grow on, all while making sure this is actually the area you would like to target.

If you can’t pay a visit yourself, you can also have a local partner or representative to take care of your business on the Indian side. However, if you do plan to make use of a liason or branch office, you may require permission from the Reserve Bank of India. Visit the RBI website to find out more.

Customs in India

As with shipping to any country outside of the EU, deliveries to India will have to pass through customs, and may have duties or taxes applied. India also has their own list of goods that are prohibited or restricted from import into India. This list is extensive and occasionally specific, so make sure that you are well aware of the status of the goods that you plan to ship.

For example, if you would like to ship used clothing of any nature, you will require a special import license from the Director General of Foreign Trade in India. To apply for a special import, be sure to visit the Directorate General site. There are other goods which have similar requirements, so be sure to do your research before committing to any specific imports.

Taj Mahal and the Yamuna River by sunset in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Challenges in doing business in India

India is a unique place do business and, as such, there are a variety of challenges to face when exporting your own brand. Much like the issue with individual states having unique requirements, these issues will take time and effort to address.

It should be made clear that despite the speedy growth of the Indian economy, success in India is not a quick fix. It requires an investment of time and effort alongside money, and only the patient will eventually succeed.

Furthermore, there are several India specific regulations and requirements that should be kept in mind when exporting from the UK. For example, there are specific labelling requirements for goods that are imported, which include the need for all information to be presented in either English or Hindi.

For more information on the requirements and regulations that should be kept in mind when exporting to India, be sure to read the UK Government’s Exporting to India guide.

Further reading

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