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February 10, 2016

China’s real estate investment into India and other parts of Asia Pacific is likely to increase as Chinese companies align their overseas strategies with President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt One Road” initiative.

Billionaire Chinese real estate developer Wang Jianlin’s recent announcement that he would invest up to US$10 billion in a vast industrial township in the northern part of India may be a sign of what’s to come between Asia Pacific’s two major economies, according to JLL.

“We expect to see further Chinese investment into India’s real estate and infrastructure development,” says Darren Xia, JLL’s head of International Capital Group China. “Combine this with government support from Presidential Xi’s recent announcement of “One Belt One Road”, we expect to see further Chinese investment into India’s real estate and infrastructure development.”

“There is likely to be an inflow of at least $3 to 4 billion in investment from China into the Indian real estate market over the next three years,” says Shobhit Agarwal, Managing Director, Capital Markets, JLL India. “Chinese developers are keen to explore strategic partnerships and enter into joint ventures with Indian builders, and are particularly interested in large residential projects.”

“In fact, JLL is working with more than a handful of Chinese investors exploring India’s opportunities and undertaking due diligence research on their behalf,” says Xia.

China’s “One belt, one road” is a development strategy started by the Chinese government in 2013. It refers to the New Silk Road Economic Belt, which will link China with Europe through Central and Western Asia, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which will connect China with Southeast Asian countries, Africa and Europe.

Neither the belt nor the road follows any clear line geographically speaking; they serve more as a roadmap for how China wants to further integrate itself into the world economy and strengthen its influence in these regions.

In March 2014, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for accelerating the “One Belt One Road” initiative along with the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in his government work report presented to the annual meeting of the country’s legislature.

The initiative has already sparked a wave of outbound investment by Chinese businesses. According to statistics from China’s Ministry of Commerce, Chinese enterprises made direct investments in 49 countries that were closely related to the “Belt and Road” initiative, with investment values at $ 14.82 billion, up 18.2 percent year on year.

While opinions about China’s ambitious plan are divided, the initiative has the potential to bring about great economic gains for over 60 countries, home to at least 4 billion people, contributing about 40 percent of the world’s GDP.

For his part, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been promoting the ‘Make in India’ campaign. The government has been seeking to drum up investment as part of this effort. While differences exist between New Delhi and Beijing over their shared border, Modi is keen to attract Chinese financing and engineering prowess to help modernise India’s infrastructure and economy.

Since Modi became prime minister of India, the outlook towards India has turned positive. Funds and players across the world are looking more confidently at investing in India.

In fact, the World Bank in January projected that India will grow by a robust 7.8 percent in 2016, and 7.9 percent in the following two years. The World Bank also predicted that India would be the fastest- growing economy in the world in the next three years and will outpace China.

“From my most recent trip to India, we see many similarities of the development India is going through when compared to China over the past 20 years such as the rising middle class, urbanization and infrastructure development of Tier one cities,” says Xia. “Thus in Chinese developers and construction companies’ eyes, where they’ve just been through a similar cycle this means opportunity.”

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Darren Xia

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