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Unlocking India’s Space Potential: India Liberalizes Foreign Direct Investment Regime

  1. The foreign investment decision coverage was ambiguous about house routines beyond satellites, major to various interpretations.
  2. Some businesses built investments basis the watch that investments in the pursuits not detailed less than the FDI coverage in this sector could be designed up to 100% devoid of prior govt acceptance.
  3. The proposed FDI Place Plan addresses these considerations and lets 100% international investments underneath the computerized and governmental acceptance route.
  4. Formal notification is awaited which will make this plan successful as regulation.


India now is house to far more than 200 area start-ups, and the house sector in India has captivated USD 124.7 million expenditure in the yr 2023. The present overseas financial investment coverage of India (&#8220FDI Plan”) requires international investors to get hold of prior government approvals for investing in the area sector, specifically for the establishment of satellites.

Thinking about the development of this sector, the Indian govt has been periodically releasing policies / notifications, setting up organizations, etc. with the intent to allow a lot more non-public participation in this sector. This has led to the institution of an firm to endorse the sector termed the Indian Nationwide Place Advertising and Authorization Centre in 2020, as well as the introduction of the Countrywide Geospatial Coverage, 2022 adopted by the Indian Space Coverage, 2023.

On February 21, 2024, the Union Cupboard permitted amendments to the Overseas Direct Expenditure (“FDI”) plan and communicated it in a press launch (“FDI Room Coverage”) which proposes to liberalize investments in the space sector. On the other hand, a official notification from the applicable authorities is nevertheless awaited for the amendments to turn out to be enforceable as law.

Current FDI Policy 

Existing international financial investment restrictions in the house sector are supplied below the Timetable I of Overseas Trade Management Act (Non-Financial debt Instrument) Principles, 2019 (“NDI Policies”). The current norms do not identify “place” as a sector in alone. As a substitute, the area connected things to do are generally captured less than the head &#8211 “satellites &#8211 institution and procedure”. 100% foreign expense is authorized in this sector but the exact is matter to approval from the government alongside with compliance of sectoral guidelines from Office of Area / Indian Room Research Organisation. In essence, all international investments in providers enterprise the things to do of satellites-institution and operations demand authorities approval.

Reforms &#8211 New FDI Space Policy 

The proposed FDI Space Coverage allows 100% international expense in the house sector and has also made sub-classes, entry route and financial investment thresholds for numerous area related functions, which are as follows: Action FDI Thresholds
1. Satellites-producing & procedure, satellite facts solutions and ground segment & person segment Up to 74% below computerized route

and beyond 74% (up to 100%) under authorities route

2. Start motor vehicles and associated systems or subsystems, generation of spaceports for launching and getting spacecraft Up to 49% less than automated route and further than 49% (up to 100%) below governing administration route
3. Manufacturing of components and techniques/ sub-techniques for satellites, floor segment and user segment Up to 100% underneath automatic route


(i) Position of existing investments

The present FDI plan did not incorporate space sector connected activities (other than satellites-establishment and procedure) these as start motor vehicle business enterprise, floor phase, person segment, sub-component / sub-programs production, data solutions and so forth.

Various stakeholders argued that considering the fact that the current FDI coverage did not specify specific things to do these kinds of as launch motor vehicles, information sets, production of area devices / factors etcetera. below the head of “satellites-institution and procedure”, overseas investments in this sort of situations need to be permitted up to 100% under the automatic route. This was dependent on the interpretation below the FDI plan that sectors / things to do not exclusively shown or prohibited, are permissible for overseas expenditure up to 100% less than the automatic route, issue to sectoral conditionalities. Relying on the identical, foreign traders manufactured investments in house start off-ups whose things to do ended up not explicitly detailed or controlled below the recent FDI regime without the need of getting govt acceptance.

Some stakeholders interpreted “satellites” really broadly and took a far more conservative see that all room relevant routines required government acceptance. Likewise, there were being overlaps in actions / interpretation of the FDI plan underneath the sectors of defence, telecom and producing.

The place liberalization norms less than the proposed FDI Room Coverage might have truly de-liberalized this sector for sure businesses who been given investments in allied area activities based on the knowing that sectors / things to do not exclusively outlined or prohibited, must be suitable for international investments up to 100% under the automatic route. In this sort of instances in which the investment decision thresholds under the proposed FDI Area Policy might be breached, it would be appealing to see the government’s approach which include granting approvals on a publish-facto foundation.

(ii) Sub- categorizations of routines within the Space Sector

Even though the governing administration has acknowledged the sub-types of actions in just the area sector, it has not clarified its rationale for offering distinct foreign expenditure thresholds for this sort of pursuits. Relaxed thresholds for satellites (i.e., 74% below the computerized route (up to 100% below government route)) and its sub-elements (i.e., 100% underneath the automated route) inspire foreign participation in industrial facets of place functions. In distinction, the 49% cap on foreign investments below the automatic route (up to 100% less than governing administration route) on start cars admit their twin-use possible for both equally civilian and defence applications. This sensitivity, mixed with the launching point out&#8217s heightened legal responsibility beneath Write-up II of the Convention on Global Liability for Damage Brought on by Area Objects (“Legal responsibility Convention”), may perhaps be seen as necessitating increased authorities oversight.

Having said that, marketplace players have also criticized the differential treatment method supplied to start motor vehicles vis-a-vis satellites. They believe that, in essence, equally industries have equivalent sensitivity challenges and for this reason must be handled at par from a international financial commitment point of view. Hence, the variation in overseas expenditure thresholds demand a lot more clarification from the authorities.

(iii) Satellite Data Solutions

The phrase ‘satellite facts goods’ has not been outlined under the proposed FDI Place Coverage but investments in such actions would be permitted up to 74% less than the automated route (up to 100% below govt route). This may possibly guide to some conflict from a satellite imagery / info standpoint examine along with the liberalized Geospatial Tips, 2021. (“Geospatial Pointers”).

The Geospatial Tips mostly permit overseas investments up to 100% underneath the automatic route with minimal international financial investment limitations specifically if the action is for (i) development / ownership / storage of geospatial data of a sure precision (as outlined less than the Geospatial Tips) (ii) terrestrial cell study, road perspective study and surveying routines in Indian territorial waters. There seems to be no particular restriction on satellite produced data (other than the previously mentioned) beneath the Geospatial Suggestions. As a result, the proposed FDI Room Coverage may well conclude up restricting foreign investments for routines relating to Satellite Details Goods (which would contain geo-spatial data) in which otherwise is considered to be permissible up to 100% less than the automated route.

The authorities must also define what constitutes satellite information solutions and to the extent feasible it would be advised that international expenditure up to 100% should be permitted less than the computerized route.

Also, the rationale for capping investments for satellite information solutions below the proposed FDI Room Policy would seem unclear as these are info sets which could be regulated under the Geospatial Rules and the new Indian privacy legislation.

(iv) Exactly where are sub-factors for start cars protected?

The proposed FDI Area Policy explicitly addresses the production of components and units / sub-techniques for the satellite sector, floor & user segment, and permits 100% FDI underneath automatic route for the similar. With the absence of comparable language for elements in start automobiles, it could suggest its inclusion less than the broader start car class, hence falling under the 49% automatic route (up to 100% under federal government route). Alternatively, it could also be argued given that it is not expressly specified, the exact same could be covered underneath the 100% automated route group. Nevertheless, looking at the significant position of this kind of factors in the sector&#8217s progress, clarification from the authorities would give substantially-needed comfort and ease particularly if the components are twin use (satellite and launch motor vehicle usage).

(v) What about ground phase and user segment for start motor vehicles?

Next the pattern noticed with the satellite and floor segment groups, the absence of certain mention for the &#8220ground segment & user phase&#8221 in the launch car or truck part raises more concerns. This omission could be an oversight or intentional, but the absence of clarity hinders transparency and predictability for potential buyers. Further clarity on the inclusion from an marketplace point of view in the official modification notification would make certain a complete and regular policy framework for the full launch car or truck sector.

(vi) Had been any sub-categories / activities missed?

As area activities may perhaps grow to incorporate area mining, exploration, global space station building, area tourism etc., India requires to proactively deal with these regions. In particular, if these need to be interpreted for overseas investments up to 100% below the automatic route, as this would have a bearing on India&#8217s ability to entice international investment decision while safeguarding countrywide passions, technological competitiveness, and dependable stewardship of India in room.


Whilst the proposed FDI House Plan gives substantial liberalization, further clarity is awaited centered on the formal notification which will make this productive as regulation. Ideally, the Federal government must deliver definitions / explanations for the proposed categorization and sub-categorizations, and further more clarity on the inclusions and omissions of activities which may be similar to most house sector features these kinds of as person and floor segments.

Although the transfer to liberalization significantly minimizes govt manage more than the room sector, its inherent interconnectedness with other controlled domains like telecommunications / geospatial can not be ignored. In spite of these difficulties, the federal government&#8217s willingness to open the place sector to international investments is a optimistic action featuring greater self-assurance to foreign traders. Rest in the present norms also signifies a supportive stance to the business, encouraging both of those domestic and global participation. Notably, India successfully attracted considerable foreign financial investment even during the period of whole government control. Hence, with the existing reforms, a substantial increase in foreign investments is anticipated.

[1] Rajya Sabha Concerns, Department of Area, obtainable at

[2] Notification, Department of Place, obtainable at
[3] Notification, Ministry of Commerce &amp Market, accessible at

[4] Posting II of the Liability Conference provides that a launching State shall be absolutely liable to shell out payment for destruction triggered by its room object on the area of the earth or to plane flight.

Nishith Desai Associates 2024. All rights reserved.
by: Huzefa Tavawalla, Ayushi Pandey, Palomita Sharma of Nishith Desai Associates
For much more information on Foreign Immediate Investments, pay a visit to the NLR Economical Establishments & Banking portion.

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