Doing business

Current business situation

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) provides advice for business travellers and tourists going to India. This is regularly updated and should be checked before planning travel.

Business culture

Though a traditional society at heart, when it comes to business dealings most internationally accepted practices are widely followed in the country. Indians, for the most part, possess all the required skills such as language (English is widely used in written and oral communication), managerial, technical and the ability to negotiate.

Experiences of Australian companies doing business in India 

Read case studies about Australian companies on their experiences of doing business in India.

Setting up in India

On account of the geographical dispersion of India, it is recommended that Australian companies consider a regional plan, focusing on multiple locations and markets within India and finding appropriate partners within each region.

There are varying options for in-market representation, ranging from appointing agents and distributors, to setting up branch/liaison offices, to setting up joint ventures and local subsidiaries.

Austrade has a presence across India with 10 offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kochi to support Australian organisations and exporters.

Companies doing business with India may wish to establish of a formal presence in the market. As with any international market, Australian companies intending to establish an on-the-ground presence in India should ensure that an appropriate business structure is put in place that complies with Indian and Australian regulations.

Establishing a business presence in India requires the completion of a set of legal processes. The steps involved depend on the form and nature of the business and the structure chosen. Before commencing business activities in India, it is recommended that organisations seek legal and taxation advice and obtain information on local market conditions that may impact setting up a business.

Prospective investors should consider the range of laws and policies covering foreign investment, taxation, accounting and employment law and also understand the commercial and corporate legal system in India. Since the economic liberalisation process began in the 1990s, the process of setting up businesses and incorporation of entities has become more transparent and organised.

Australian companies are advised to:

  • Adopt an appropriate legal and tax structure from inception.
  • Use a qualified legal and tax firm with a presence in India to review all contracts.
  • Conduct legal, financial and technical due diligence on any potential partner to minimise risk.
  • Seek legal advice on protecting their intellectual property. There could be potential violations of intellectual property and copyrights.
  • Allow adequate time for finalising partners. Companies in India prefer to establish a strong relationship before finalising a deal.
  • Be prepared for tough negotiations and to work through any legal issues. Be firm, polite and creative, but be prepared to say no, if the situation demands.

Further information is available by downloading Doing business in India: Establishing a business presence (PDF, 248KB).

Banking and finance

India has an extensive banking network, with three tiers:

  1. scheduled commercial banks.
  2. regional rural banks, operating in rural areas, not covered by the scheduled banks.
  3. cooperative and special purpose rural banks.

The Reserve Bank of India is the central banking institution and is the supervisory body for banking operations. It supervises and administers exchange control, banking regulations and administers the government's monetary policy.

Indian banking financial statements conform to internationally recognised standards, but in some cases, are modified to suit Indian conditions.

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India
Central Board of Customs and Excise
Confederation of Indian Industry
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry
Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal
Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Ministry of Finance
Deloitte - Taxation and Investment in India
KPMG India Soars Higher
Grand Thornton India - A guide to establishing presence in India

News and media

Economic Times
The Mint

Press Information Bureau
The Times of India

Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.