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'Demonetisation is definitely going to have an impact'

'Demonetisation is definitely going to have an impact'

Norwegian Business Association India (NBAI) Chairman, Richard Chapman, speaks to Joe C. Mathew about the business landscape in India.

What does your business climate survey among Norwegian companies in India say?

It captures the slowdown in the heavy industries sector. Companies across renewable energy to hydropower to the oil and gas sectors, and big maritime businesses, have been talking about the slowdown - 62 per cent consider the present business climate as favourable, and 75 per cent believe it will become better in the years to come. And one reason for that is India's huge population. We believe in India; it is a long-term game.

Is the slowdown due to demonetisation?

The slowdown is happening for the past six months across port development and big energy projects. We don't quite understand why, but it's probably because of the NPAs of banks. There could be a credit issue for these B2B companies. Some of them had also invested a bit heavily in the past in Indonesia and Australia, at the wrong time, and the result is now showing. Businesses in the B2C segment - companies in the construction and automobile sectors - were doing well, reflecting the strong GDP growth, but have been affected because it is a cash business. We will have to extend credit and see if we can get over with it. But demonetisation is definitely going to have an impact.

Norway has identified marine/ maritime as a key sector. Any developments here?

Shipping is going through a global slowdown. But there are a lot of opportunities coming up in the maritime sector in the medium and long term. Modi is trying to do a lot of port expansion, and that is where Norwegian companies can help. He wants to do something similar in coastal shipping, too.

Have things improved under the current government's regime?

Modi is very active in getting FDI. More investments have come; we have added more members. There is more interest, but I would not call it a trend. ~