India is the fifth most attractive market for global CEOs in 2018

28 February 2018 5 min. read
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Having been amongst the top destinations in the world for investment over the past few years, India has now moved into the top five countries of preference for CEOs across the world, according to PwC’s latest global CEO survey. India replaces Japan, which was in fifth position in last year’s survey.

Among the sea of insights displayed at the World Economic Forum this year, Big Four professional services firm PwC released its latest ‘Global CEO Survey’ results, based on responses from 1,293 CEOs around the world. The survey is conducted annually, with the aim of determining the key areas of investment and top current concerns for global businesses.

This year’s survey revealed an atmosphere of what the report describes as ‘anxious optimism.’ In essence, while most CEOs are hopeful about growth over the next year, they were more reserved in their growth predictions for the next three-year period, with most being ‘very confident’ in the first period, but ‘somewhat confident’ in the second.

The biggest concern across the board seems to be with respect to regulation. This might stem from the imminent rolling out of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act in Europe – devised to counter the growing threat of cyber attacks – which will begin to manifest itself restrictively over the next two to three years.

Other concerns include terrorism, geopolitical uncertainty and cyber attacks themselves. One striking set of concerns for global CEO’s is the rapid advancement of technology and the resultant lack of availability in the required skill-sets. Recent studies have shown that artificial intelligence (AI) will bring about a situation where one in ten jobs will require entirely new skills five years from now.

Despite these concerns, CEOs are trudging on with their plans for expansion, particularly into new markets across the globe. In the last few years, particularly since the highly liberal policies introduced under the current administration, India has been among the top destinations for investment for businesses worldwide.

Top investment destinations

The country is due to become a major economic hub over the next few decades, not only driving growth for the surrounding Asian economy, but also becoming the second largest economy in the world by 2050. A major reason for this is the large and young population that the country is endowed with; the opposite of what Japan is experiencing at present.

An ageing population has put Japan out of favour to a small extent in terms of economic activity. In this year’s survey, Japan fell out of the top five preferred destinations for investment into sixth, replaced by India, which was sixth in last year’s survey. The US, true to form, occupied top spot on the list, followed by China, Germany, and the UK.

India’s popularity stems from its substantial consumer market, which is rapidly coming into the online domain, thereby driving up the value of a number of other sectors. As a result, a number of companies, such as Grant Thornton last year, and Deloitte early this year, have launched digital practices in the country with big ambitions. In addition, the ecommerce sector is taking off, as is the advertising segment, all resting on the foundations laid by the monumental agricultural sector.

Commenting on the results, Shyamal Mukherjee, the Chairman of PwC in India said, “Backed by definitive structural reforms, the India story has been looking better in the past one year. Most of our clients are optimistic about their growth. The Government has made efforts to address concerns around areas like infrastructure, manufacturing and skilling, although newer threats like cybersecurity and climate change are beginning to play on the minds of our clients.”