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Foreign Direct Investment in the Indian Telecommunications Sector By Keith Green Abstract This paper will examine the current status of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Indian telecommunications sector and the issues facing foreign companies seeking to invest in the Indian telecommunications sector. The paper concludes with a brief econometric examination of the factors influencing the level of FDI in the Indian telecommunications sector.

Introduction In the early 1990s India began to open up an economy that was previously closed to foreign direct investment (FDI). The liberalization in India included the gradual granting of authority for foreign direct investment in specific sectors of the economy. India has received significant inflows of foreign direct investment after liberalizing its economy in 1991 (see Figure 1 in the appendix). FDI inflows to India have exceeded many other ASEAN countries over time. However, China, not depicted in Figure 1, continues to be the leading destination for FDI in the Asia-Pacific region. India has achieved substantive improvements in telecommunications access since opening its telecommunications sector in the early 1990s. However, India has realized fewer benefits than were possible during the period of market reform. The slow implementation pace of liberalization, disparity between urban and rural areas and unclear regulations have impeded the flow of investment to the telecommunications sector in comparison to other emerging market economies.

1

History of Indian Telecommunications Prior to 1991 India actively implemented an import substitution strategy.1 This strategy effectively limited foreign direct investment in almost all major areas of the Indian economy. In 1991 India experienced a balance of payments crisis when foreign exchange reserves ran dangerously low. Subsequent to the crisis the Indian government…...

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