Two S'pore firms pledge to invest millions in India

Plans for manufacturing plants come amid Modi's drive to attract foreign investors

Two Singapore companies are among hundreds of firms that have pledged multimillion-dollar investments during the inaugural "Make in India" event, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a drive to attract foreign investors.

Singapore pharma firm Chemigran has earmarked one billion rupees (S$21 million) to set up its first manufacturing unit in India, producing anti-cancer drugs, while Hub's Engineering is planning to invest more than $5 million in a plant to make shelves for retailers.

Hub's Engineeering hopes to have its 10,000 sq m factory up and running in three years, while Chemigran, which signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the weekend, aims to set up its unit in 18 months. Both will be in western Maharashtra state.

"The MOUs... will create new opportunities for them to grow with India and global markets. I hope that this will encourage more Singapore companies to follow in their footsteps," said Mr Tan Soon Kim, assistant chief executive of IE Singapore, the government trade agency.

Some 1,000 delegates from 68 countries and 8,000 domestic manufacturing executives are taking part in events in the financial capital, Mumbai.

Mr Modi is trying to boost the share of manufacturing from 15 per cent to 25 per cent of gross domestic product in 10 years and create millions of jobs in the process.

Mr Raymond Tan of Hub's Engineering, which will sign an MOU this week, said: "We think it is the right time to start manufacturing... Also, there is a high possibility we will export from India to the Middle East and South-east Asia."

Still, concerns remain over doing business in India. Projects face delays due to issues such as lengthy approval processes and land acquisition. "We are not sure how things will move in future... when it comes to execution. That worry is there," said Mr Faim Patel, Chemigran's director of business and technology.

According to the Indian government, Singapore is the country's second-largest source of investment, pumping in US$31.9 billion (S$44.7 billion) from April 2000 to February last year - 13 per cent of the total inflow. While manufacturing and infrastructure have drawn Singapore companies, e-commerce and urban infrastructure are seen as potential growth areas.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2016, with the headline 'Two S'pore firms pledge to invest millions in India'. Print Edition | Subscribe