Ideas

Peace

In a world set to reach nearly 10 billion inter-connected people, power will come from creating peace, prosperity and freedom so that we can make breakthroughs in how we live together, and this requires a transformation in the very definition of power, and the purpose and principles by which it is exercised

GPC’s Macro Thought Leadership

GPC’s research focuses on the geostrategic changes in the world and the implications of for peace, prosperity and freedom. Our analysis seeks to find the patterns and identify the new forces that are the signs of our times and will determine the future of the world


The world is in a historic transition of great power hegemony, world order, population and resources which will change the very nature of civilisation. These transformations create discontinuities and a dynamic canvas on which the world’s future will be written

The 21st Century has been widely predicted to be the Asian Century, in which the continent, home to 60% of the world’s population, will become the world’s dominant economic, political and even cultural force. Within this continent of 49 countries, two will disproportionately impact the trajectory of the 21st Century on account of their scale and growth potential: China and India. The relationship between these two countries as well as the trialogue with the world’s current hegemon, the United States, will will be critical to shaping global economic and political trends for generations to come.

 

A modern India lifting a billion people out of poverty will need a large, modern and diversified economy to not only realize the aspirations of people but also to clothe, feed, employ and educate what will become the world’s largest population within the next five years and this will require an India that is open to the world and dedicated to unlocking the potential of its people and its assets

 

We bring our network of business leaders, entrepreneurs, influencers and thinkers who are at the frontline of change across to provide insights into the global issues that are rapidly changing the world and how they see an impact being made for good

 

We recognise the complex and rapidly changing nature of India’s markets and economy as it grows and expands internationally and have focused the firm’s thought leadership on detailed research to generate insights into the macro-environment, market strategy, investment opportunities and challenges to generate attractive risk adjusted returns

We live in revolutionary times. Increasingly political, economic and social volatility is driving change on a global level, creating both risks and opportunities for international investors. Greater Pacific Capital’s thought leadership and investing strategy placed it at the forefront of global change

Selected news that makes the difference

Global Firms Look to Shift from China to India

Several large manufacturers across US, Europe, japan and South Korea have initiated talks with Indian firms to explore the possibility of shifting a part of their supply chains from China as they seek to diversify their operations following the Covid-19 outbreak.

 

IMF Estimates Indian GDP to Grow by 1.9% in 2020

Despite reducing India’s projected growth rate to 1.9% in 2020, the IMF projects the country to be the fastest growing major economy in a world plunged into global recession induced by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Government to Guarantee US$39bn of Small-Business Loans

The Indian government is considering a proposal to guarantee US$39bn of bank loans to small businesses as part of a plan to restart the Indian economy reeling under the impact of a 40-day lockdown.

 

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Announces c.US$7bn Liquidity Facility for Mutual Funds

The RBI announced a special facility of US$7bn which is expected to ease liquidity pressure on mutual funds, stabilize the performance of short-term debt funds and improve investor sentiment about the debt market.

 

Fund Raising for Indian Companies Decline by c.79% in Q1 2020

Indian companies have seen a c.79% decline in fund raising during the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year, following the spread of Covid-19 pandemic that has forced investors to cut exposure to riskier assets.

 

Government Plans to Set Up A Chain of 2m Retail Shops Across India

Ahead of further extension to the lockdown, the Indian government plans to convert 2m local stores across India into sanitised retail outlets which will provide daily essentials to citizens in the country while maintaining stringent safety norms.

 

Spotlight on the key monthly news events shaping media coverage in India

Media coverage in India this month primarily revolved around the global coronavirus pandemic, and particularly on the nationwide lockdown and its impact on the economy. Additionally, the media also covered the government’s amendment to India’s consolidated FDI policy in order to prevent opportunistic takeovers by companies in neighbouring countries and Facebook’s US$5.7bn investment in Jio to collaborate on an e-tailing platform that is expected to create new business opportunities for more than 60m small businesses across India.

 

Government Announces Extension of Nationwide Lockdown to Tackle Spread of Novel Coronavirus

 

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the nationwide lockdown by an additional 19 days until May 3rd to contain the spread of Covid-19 as the number of cases surged past 30,000-mark in India. The decision to extend the lockdown was announced following a broad consensus between Prime Minister Modi and the various state chief ministers, despite concerns that the shutdown will put millions across the country out of work. Various media publications weighed in on how the extension of the lockdown would help India’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and its implications for the economy.

 

An op-ed in Livemint outlined the opportunities available for the Indian economy to recover and to secure long-term growth after the lockdown is lifted including providing incentives for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and attracting large global companies looking to diversify out of China.   “First, the government should announce a package to provide cash to businesses without many restrictive eligibility criteria—soft loans with a repayment schedule starting a year from now—but impose other long-term quid pro quo terms such as large businesses mandatorily using the Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS) to discount suppliers’ bills.… Second, ways must be to found to lock in the current price of oil for the next few years… Third, set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) like Temasek of Singapore to park all government stakes in PSEs and begin monetizing it by issuing securities against them..  More important than getting a few things right is not doing anything wrong. For instance, the standard approach of promising plug-and-play facilities, unless they already exist in special economic zones, is unlikely to be effective. Also, one arm of the government should not undermine the efforts of another.”

 

The Hindu focused on why normalcy will have to be restored in phases once the lockdown ends given the battle against the pandemic is expected to continue until a vaccine or a treatment line is found and it is impossible to keep the economy shut and people at home indefinitely. “A partial reopening of the economy is being proposed, but a lot will depend on the extent of success in containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in particular areas… The proposed relaxations are, hence, a step forward. Industries outside city limits, certain types of construction both in rural and urban areas, segments of the service sector, and manufacturing partially will reopen after April 20… A more comprehensive strategy must involve helping people stay at home, incentives to employers to pay salaries, and expansion of welfare support for the most vulnerable... Another area in need of urgent attention of governments is the breakdown of general health care in many parts of the country, claiming several lives and leaving far too many begging for treatment.”

 

An article in The Indian Express covered the additional steps that both the government and the RBI would need to undertake over the coming months in order to deal with the economic fallout from the extension of the nationwide lockdown. “It is difficult at this moment to accurately gauge the extent of the economic hurt caused by the lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in India. The sharp divergence in the various growth projections that have been put out underline this state of uncertainty… A gradual opening up will mean that recovery in large parts of the country will be a protracted process. During this period, as firms’ cash flows remain constrained, and as balance sheet stress intensifies, some of them will be forced to retrench their labour force... To begin with, cash transfers to the more vulnerable can be ramped up to ease liquidity constraints. Next, all government dues, especially to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), should be cleared immediately. Credit guarantee funds can be set up to encourage bank lending to MSMEs, and the broader economy, not just to investment grade firms.”

 

Indian Government Revises FDI Rules to Bar Automatic Investments by Neighboring Countries

 

The Indian government revised its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy with the objective of preventing “opportunistic takeovers” of firms hit by the lockdown induced by the COVID-19 outbreak.  As per the new amendment, FDI investments into Indian companies from all neighboring countries that share a land border with India – such as China among others will now require approval from the government. Various media publications have weighed in on how amendments to the FDI policy would impact the landscape for Chinese investments in Indian companies.

 

An article in The Indian Express outlined why it was necessary to scrutinize Chinese investments to prevent opportunistic takeovers of Indian companies given the growing apprehension across both the developing and developed world, that China has been targeting their infrastructural, industrial and technological assets for control. “Delhi’s move to prevent a predatory Chinese hunt for Indian companies comes at a time when the stock market has been badly bruised by the coronavirus. It underlines the emerging perception in Delhi that there is no separating commerce and security in dealing with China. Delhi’s concerns are similar to those being expressed elsewhere in the world… Although few world leaders want to join the US President, Donald Trump, in publicly attacking China, many of them know that Beijing bears some responsibility for letting a health emergency in one of its cities become a global pandemic. That Chinese companies, with access to easy money and strong political support in Beijing, are now taking economic advantage of other nations’ misery has added insult to injury... The last few years have seen a new approach that has seen India oppose China’s Belt and Road Initiative and walk out of the RCEP negotiations citing the trade imbalance with China. The decision on Chinese FDI can be seen as one of that piece.”

 

An op-ed in The Economic Times was critical of the move, claiming that while strategic takeovers could be kept off bounds, India should be trying to attract and not curb Chinese investments, since it will need additional capital from every possible source to get its growth back on track in a post Covid-19 world. “China has now become a significant, though still modest, foreign investor. As of December 2019, China's cumulative investment in India exceeded $8 billion. That is too puny to worry about. In the last decade, China has become technologically world-class and financially powerful, but is nowhere near as strong as US companies, and nowhere near as dominant as US companies were in the 1960s and 1970s. Just as many countries prospered using US investment and technology, so, too, should they prosper with Chinese investment and technology today… If US and European investors with the greatest savvy and money power do not view Indian companies as cheap bargains, why think the Chinese know better? In any case why conflate depressed stock markets with national security?...  Reportedly, over $40 billion has flowed out of Indian equity and debt markets since the Covid-19 pandemic began. India seeks additional funds from abroad, and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has liberalised foreign investment in bonds to attract inflows.”

 

India Today focused on why changing the FDI rules is the first step of many that India will have to undertake as it understands the enormity of China’s influence in several strategic sectors and carefully considers how much Chinese money the country can do without.  “India’s move to impose these restrictions comes after countries such as the US, Japan and Australia have already done so to prevent Chinese companies buying assets whose valuations have plunged in the wake of the pandemic… China’s investments in India are largely in India’s soft power sectors, such as smartphones and apps. A February 2020 analysis by Mumbai-based think tank Gateway House termed China’s investments of over $5 billion in India since 2015 ‘alarming’... Chinese FDI into India, at $6.2 billion, might not seem a cause for worry, but these investments are extremely strategic, giving Chinese firms access to the data of millions of Indians who are downloading apps or using smartphones. These investments thus bring up concerns over data security, propaganda, and platform control for India...  India has not participated in China’s Belt and Road Initiative and has yet to take a final decision on allowing Huawei into the national 5G telecom market. But through these investments in start-ups, India may find its economy tied even closer to China’s, the report says..”

 

Facebook Invests US$5.7bn to Acquire 10% Stake in Jio 

 

Facebook invested US$5.7bn in Jio, the digital assets of Reliance Industries, making it the largest investment for a minority stake by any technology company in the world. The two companies aim to connect local and small businesses across India through Jio’s small business platform, JioMart, to the 400m users on Facebook’s messaging app-WhatsApp, thus providing these small stores with a new medium for business opportunities.  Media publications focused on what this collaboration would mean for small businesses in India and its implications for the digital ecosystem of the country.

An op-ed in The Print detailed out why the ‘India Story’ will ensure that the country remains a favoured foreign investment destination at a time when global economies have entered an unprecedented zone of uncertainty and turmoil on account of the massive disruption caused by Covid-19. “So it is with the Rs 43,574 crore deal between Reliance Jio and Facebook… we have just witnessed the ‘largest investment for a minority stake’ by a technology company in India. It is, therefore, important to separate substance from the noise and for that, it is important to view this investment in the right perspective. Before we look at what Facebook’s investment in Jio is all about, it is important to understand what this investment is not about. The agreement does not represent an American business buying a majority or controlling stake in an Indian company… Second, by no stretch of the imagination is it an ‘opportunistic bid’ to extract resources from a lucrative Indian business or the burgeoning Indian digital market at a time when Government’s attention is diverted by a national crisis caused by a raging pandemic. Hence, it is neither a predatory purchase nor a soft investment to place a small bet on the future. Third, and this is important to note because we are once again beginning to hear the same old cant, there is absolutely no data arbitrage or data acquisition embedded in the transaction, hidden from the public eye, as this investment is not about either.”

 

An article in The Indian Express outlined how the collaboration between Facebook and Jio would empower millions of small businesses across the country to enter the e-commerce space and connect to new customers across the country despite not having a website or a payment gateway. “The only announcement for now is that the two entities will collaborate around JioMart, Jio’s e-tailing business. WhatsApp could easily enable access for millions of mom-and-pop stores across the country, helping them to show up on the e-tailing platform. Jio can use the location data to curate local businesses, while WhatsApp will enable hurdle-free connection and orders between the customers and traders… The winner here will be the small traders who will get an easy opportunity to connect with customers old and new, as well as sell online using a platform they understand… All they would need is the WhatsApp for Business app to reach out to customers across the country.” 

 

The Hindustan Times covered how the enhanced pace of digitisation accelerated by the Covid-19 disease would give both the companies a chance to make inroads into the Indian Internet domain in areas such as augmented and mixed reality, smart devices, gaming, video streaming, AI and IoT over the coming years.  “Reliance Retail will get to use WhatsApp to get more customers onto JioMart, its grocery delivery platform for starters, but there are more things that this partnership can facilitate. … Facebook’s Gamerooms was popular amongst developers till a few years ago. The platform had a lot of games but it could not get very popular. Add Facebook’s recent Gaming app to this. Facebook Gaming is similar to Microsoft’s Twitch and Google’s YouTube Gaming - a streaming platform. One that could benefit off Jio bringing in low-latency gaming on its fiber network… Facebook owns Oculus which is one of the first companies to make consumer VR headsets. Jio already bundles its mixed-reality platform, virtual and augmented reality (AR) experiences both, with its broadband service. Post this partnership, it could bundle Oculus along with this to improve the value proposition…. Both Reliance Jio and Facebook have their own video streaming platforms. Jio already has a user base in India for JioMovies (since it is free for Jio subscribers) and Facebook has been pushing the Facebook Watch platform here. Both Facebook Watch and JioMovies can enhance what the other has to offer.”

Key insights and forecasts that show us what is to come

The U.S.-China Race and the Fate of Transatlantic Relations

Both the European Union and the United States seek a rules-based, level playing field to make China behave in a way that fits more closely with the Western view of the global order, but they desire to do so in dramatically different ways with very different tools.

 

The Logic Behind India’s New Investment Policy

India’s revised FDI policy intends to protect an essential security interest by curbing the possibility of predatory Chinese investments exploiting the financial distress of Covid-19-hit Indian companies. 

 

Mapping China’s Health Silk Road

As part of its effort to position itself as a global health leader in the Covid-19 pandemic, China has revived its “Health Silk Road” concept, which utilizes the Belt and Road network to strengthen cooperation in the healthcare sector.

 

India’s Opportunity for Sustainable Growth

The pandemic has reinforced the links between health, environment and the economy and has presented India with a chance to make systemic changes across infrastructure, formal credit and primary healthcare that would ensure more sustainable development and a resilient economy

 

India, Fighting Coronavirus in an Informal Economy

India has so far prevented a major outbreak of the coronavirus through a lockdown but the trade-off in doing so has prompted special concerns about the future of its vast informal employment sector and the ability of small businesses to weather the shutdown in the months ahead. 

India Needs a Common Social Database in Crises Like Covid-19

The Indian government has responded to the crisis by announcing several social protection schemes for the poor but there is no central database to enable an efficient entitlement-based approach to social protection.

 

China’s Deepening Diplomatic and Economic Engagement in Afghanistan

As the U.S plans to draw down its forces, China is set to further deepen its involvement in Afghanistan since the country’s long-term stability is crucial to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, to central Asian republics.

China Confronts Major Risk of Debt Crisis on the Belt and Road Due to Pandemic

With several BRI countries already facing high external debt and likely to be hit hard by the pandemic, China is poised to confront multiple, simultaneous defaults in countries where it is heavily invested, which could lead to suspension or cancellation of various BRI projects.

 

Avoiding a Virus-Induced Cold War with China

One of the biggest challenges facing political leaders in both the United States and Europe, two of the regions most affected by the virus that originated in China, will be how they manage relations with China once the Covid-19 crisis abates.

 

A Faster Global Transition to Green Energy

The oil sector has seen massive volatility and downturn during the Covid-19 outbreak, which may push new investments in major oil importing nations such as India to more benign and less complicated energy resources, accelerating the energy transition to clean energy.

 

The Key Events Driving Global Instability & Opportunity

Big Picture TEST Metrics for the US, India and China, May 2020

International demand faltering in the global coronavirus pandemic, pulled down India’s manufacturing activity to a four-month low in March. India’s PMI fell to 51.8 in March from 54.5 in February and is expected to further decrease in April following the extension of the nationwide lockdown and the associated negative impact on demand. On the trade front, both exports and imports saw a steep decline by 34% and 28% respectively over the same period last year owing to the global lockdown in several countries due to coronavirus pandemic. No further change in interest rates was observed since Reserve Bank of India’s repo rate cut by 75bps last month.

 

While China’s manufacturing activity recovered as several factories resumed production in March, a durable near-term recovery is far from assured as the global coronavirus crisis threatens a steep economic global slump. The official China manufacturing PMI for the month increased to 52.0, higher than economists’ expectations of 45.0 in February, which can be attributed to its record low base in February.  On the trade front, exports and imports decreased by 6.8% and 0.5% respectively over the same period last year owing to unprecedented lockdowns in several countries.