India may soon open to some of the world's most recognisable multi-brand retailers, the country's commerce minister, Anand Sharma, stated at the annual gathering of political leaders in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

In a meeting that was attended by senior officials from US supermarket giant Wal-Mart and Metro, Germany's largest retailer, Mr Sharma said that the Indian government is currently working towards allowing multi-brand retail companies to do business in the country, which has an estimated retail market value of $450bn.


In December 2011, the Indian government suspended reforms to allow foreign companies to set up stores in the country. One month later, single-brand foreign retailers gained unrestricted access to the Indian retail market, as long as 30% of their goods were sourced locally. A further opening of these restrictions to foreign retailers will depend on an agreement being reached between partners within the United Progressive Alliance government and the opposition.

Meanwhile, also at the Davos event, global advisory firm Ernst & Young launched its Doing Business in India report. According to the report, the coming years will be marked by an increase in inward FDI projects in India. The size of India's market and its growing middle class will offset obstacles such as inadequate infrastructure and lack of governance, the report added.

Among the fastest growing sectors in India in 2011, in terms of new foreign ventures, are automotives, software and IT, and life sciences. However, despite a positive overall trend in the country's FDI environment, the number of new ventures in India's retail and infrastructure sectors has been in decline, a trend the changing of the retail investment rules in the country could go some way to reversing.