Global mobility is not a newly- introduced trend but it has significantly increased over the years. For decades, many successful Indian business stories involved global mobility, with the likes of Jamsetji Tata who travelled extensively in the 1900s while starting what is known today as the Tata Empire.
The 1990s witnessed a series of major changes in the global sphere. The technological shift created by the internet, together with a relatively global adoption for trade openness and financial liberalisation, supported by a reduction in transport and communication costs, favored an unprecedented increase in international mobility, both for individuals and business activities.
In India, during the second half of the 1990s and 2007, a series of internationally orientated policies, initiated by the government of P V Narasimha Rao, enabled a strong rise in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).
India became the world’s leading business process outsourcing (BPO) hub, with a significant increase in companies establishing partial or full production bases in India, such as Wal-Mart, General Motors, IBM, Toyota, Renault, Zara, Mango, Benetton and many call centres for service providers in various sectors.
More recently, the “Make in India” initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, encouraging foreign companies to manufacture their products in India and increase their investments, enabled India to become the top global destination for FDI in Greenfield projects in 2015, with over US$ 60 billion, beyond USA and China.
The success of several government initiatives was also reflected in the unemployment rate which reached its all-time lowest record in 2014 with 3.41 percent.
There is a clear correlation between the economic development of the country and the relationships, links and partnerships India managed to build and the strategic position it managed to acquire during the global shift, thanks to its resources, infrastructure and the skilled and talented community of leaders, entrepreneurs and workers.
India proved to be a major success story in the field of long-term economic growth. These major changes had a positive influence on the Indian economy but what about the impact of the Indian businesses internationally? Has the Indian community been able to take advantage of this economic change on a global scale? In the early 2000s, many Indian businessmen sensed the opportunities brought by this evolution, such as Dhrew Shringi, Manish Amin and Sabina Chopra who co-founded Yatra.com in 2006, when they identified the lack of online travel booking websites for the Indian market. It is today the second largest online travel website in India.
That same year another major event transformed the approach to global mobility, when St Kitts & Nevis revamped its citizenship program and opened its borders to new investors.
It was the starting point of a new approach towards the investment migration industry, making it more accessible to successful and talented individuals from limited visa-free access countries to enjoy more freedom of movement while supporting the economy of the sponsoring country.
Today’s companies are created globally from the moment they enter into business; operations are being managed remotely, talents are acquired across the globe and investors are secured wherever they are located.
In this context, missing business opportunities or being overly taxed for going global because of administrative issues could result in serious financial losses.
This ongoing and increasing situation is faced by many individuals around the world, especially in the US where a steady stream of Americans has renounced their citizenship since the implementation of stricter tax rules, as the country imposes taxes on its citizens based on citizenship and not residency.
In contrast with the global mobility movement in recent years, more and more countries have decided to tighten their borders and paths to immigration, leaving immense disparities in freedom of travel between citizens of different countries. Among the least advantaged ones feature countries like China with visa-free access to 78 countries and India with access to only 59 countries as opposed to more privileged countries like Germany with access to 188 countries (numbers as at 2018).
In an era where globalisation has never been this significant, it considerably restricts the mobility perspectives of Indian citizens and limits their opportunities for investments, business partnerships and tax efficiency.
Although Indian Entrepreneurs have made their mark globally and managed to establish successful companies, some barriers are still obstructing their global expansion. Unlike US citizens, the Indian community is not looking for ways to cut down their taxes but rather to upgrade their passports and increase the number of countries they can access and do business with.
This is something the successful Indian-born businessman Robert Viswanathan Chandran, founder and former CEO of Chemoil Energy, recognised at an early stage. He first got his US citizenship in 1981 after building his fortune from real estate investments in California.
In 2005, he decided to relinquish his citizenship for a Singaporean passport, which allowed him to live in Asia while capitalising in the fastest-growing shipping market at that time, to further develop his company and remove the tax on global income he was getting as a US citizen. This wise move brought him to the 14th position of The Forbes Singapore’s 40 richest in 2007 with more than $490 million Net Worth.
At GICG, we have helped hundreds of individuals wanting to have a base in the best jurisdiction suited for them. Since 1996, we have developed strong ties with both our global clients and various governments that we support in the creation and audits of citizenship and residency programs.
We have been part of the investment immigration industry long enough to understand the importance of tailor-made solutions, answering client needs depending on their business, as well as family and personal circumstances.
Over the years, we have identified the main areas of concerns for the Indian community and believe that residency programs such as the Malta Residency and Visa Programme (MRVP) offer strong benefits without critical disruption. Introduced in 2015 by virtue of the Immigration Act (CAP. 217, through L.N 288/2015, and amended by L.N 189/2017), the MRVP entitles government approved individuals from outside the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) to a certificate allowing the beneficiary and his/her registered dependents the right to reside, settle or stay indefinitely in Malta.
This certificate also allows all the applicants to travel freely throughout the EU, EEA and Switzerland. Admission to this program is granted after an investment of circa €330,000 depending on the applicant’s circumstances. As physical relocation is not an obligation, the residence permit could considerably improve the global business capacities of the applicant.
For example, an Indian Entrepreneur could establish a company in Malta, serving clients based in Germany, whilst travelling freely to any of the EU/EEA countries for business or personal purposes. Alternatively, Indian citizens who would like to take full advantage of the strategic location Malta offers, as Robert Viswanathan Chandran did with Singapore, while being able to work, live or study in any of the EU countries and travel visa-free to over 160 countries (including the US and Canada) should consider the Malta Individual Investment Programme (MIIP). Launched in 2014 (under L.N 47/2014), it is the first citizenship- by-investment program of its kind to be endorsed by the European Commission, thanks to its robust due diligence processes, approving only first-class and reputable applicants.
In order to qualify, the applicant must fulfil the following three criteria: a contribution to the Social and Economic Fund of Malta, an investment in a real estate property and a financial instrument approved by the government, for an approximate total sum of €900,000 depending on the individual’s circumstances.
This program delivers a passport from one of the safest and most prominent EU countries, opening doors to the European market within a timeframe of 12 months. Over the years, Malta and India have developed strong ties. Malta has hosted many splendid Indian weddings, the most extravagant of which took place in 2017 with an average expenditure of €2 million.
Several wedding planning agencies have even decided to take over this business segment by only focusing on organising Indian weddings in Malta. Additionally, the Bollywood film industry also developed a strong interest in the small Mediterranean island since several movies were shot in Malta recently.
All those links between the Maltese and Indian culture reflect the existing bonds between the two countries, which are anticipated to witness further development in the coming years. As the Indian community expands phenomenally all over the world, so does the Indian culture. Citizenship solutions available are simply a manner of enhancing the travel and business abilities to nationals of countries with less mobility power like India but does not devalue the culture and identity of those individuals.
Understanding this element created a greater recognition of the industry’s benefits which is illustrated by the strong global increase in citizenship and residency offers and demands for the past 20 years. At GICG, our in-house lawyers and local agents strive to develop personalised solutions for every client, not only in Malta but in all the prime jurisdictions offering residency or citizenship programs such as Cyprus, Greece, Montenegro and The Caribbean.
Atef El Kadi is the Managing Director of Global Information Consulting Group (GICG), a multinational firm and licensed agent offering citizenship, residency and investment solutions for clients across the globe. Atef has been in the investment migration industry since 1996 and has an extensive track record of supporting global clients in their search for the ideal investment solution for their personal and business needs.
He also assists many governments in the creation and audit of citizenship and residency programs. He started with the promotion of the Québec immigration-by-investment program and progressively expanded its portfolio to other successful programs in Dominica, St Kitts & Nevis, Cyprus, Greece, Montenegro and Malta.
Atef is a regular speaker at renowned industry events where he provides his expertise, vision and analysis of the actual and future trends of the market.
“An Indian Entrepreneur could establish a company in Malta, serving clients based in Germany, whilst travelling freely to any of the EU/EEA countries for business or personal purposes”
Interested in finding out more about Citizenship by investment for Global Indians? email [email protected]
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