Global logistics group Deutsche Post DHL Group is working to link Indian companies with businesses in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) to strengthen India's economic relations with Southeast Asian markets. “India is a key market for us. We will help our clients there to work their way into the AEC, which will in turn be a springboard to the Far East markets in line with New Delhi's ‘Act East' policy,” said Alfred Goh, President, Global Fast Growing Enterprise and Regional Head, Customer Solutions and Innovation Asia Pacific, DHL.
In 2000-2017, there was over USD 514.7 billion of ASEAN investment flow into India. In 2015-16, India's exports to ASEAN were valued at USD 25 billion, with imports at USD 40.6 billion. “We want to capitalise on our presence in these high-growth markets with a combined population of 1.8 billion people, and partner businesses on growing cross-border commerce and trade,” he said. DHL is already investing millions of dollars in India, increasing logistics hubs and warehouses, keeping up with projected demand for its services following the successful implementation of the goods and services tax (GST).
“Having been part of the GST process development from an early stage, we now have a very good understanding of the new single tax regime, which India-bound foreign investors are trying to learn,” he said. “DHL is well versed in the business cultures of both India and Southeast Asia.
We know the tax incentives, options and business locations in ASEAN,” pointed out Goh. India is industrialising, with an emphasis on export-oriented manufacturing, observed Goh, adding that ASEAN is also seeing development zones for global trade and commerce that would fit with Indian businesses' regional operations.
He highlighted India's continued port and airport development that will support exports, and that future shipment volumes will be transshipped into the regional markets through breakbulk. India's population of 1.3 billion and ASEAN's 638 million make the two territories the largest trading zones with bilateral and multi-lateral commitments under various India-ASEAN economic pacts such as the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area (AIFTA), which came into effect in 2010.
It drove further growth in two-way trade between India and ASEAN – as of 2012, this figure stood at USD 79.86 billion, surpassing its initial USD 70 billion target. With India's “Act East” policy and the Indian and ASEAN governments goals of connecting the South and Southeast Asian markets, the existence of a platform will allow India companies to have easier access to the Southeast Asian zones.
The newly set-up Global Center of Excellence (GCOE) in Iskandar Malaysia by DHL and Iskandar Investment Berhad will provide supply chain consultancy services, and support businesses to design logistics solutions specific to key industries including automotive, energy, engineering & manufacturing, life sciences & healthcare and technology.
This GCOE can connect companies in India with the government and key stakeholders to strengthen the value proposition in operating in countries like Iskandar Malaysia which will drive bilateral trade further, he said, citing examples of India-ASEAN connectivity.