Investment Adventures in Emerging Markets


Inevitable in India: Crowds, cricket and capital gains tax

India’s vibrant economy and structural growth opportunities continue to be the envy of many emerging markets. But somewhat unique to this market are tax implications that investors should be aware of. Our Franklin Templeton Global ETF team examines these structural issues in Asia’s third-largest economy.

In merely a decade, India has taken a quantum leap from the world’s 11th largest economy to become its fifth largest. By many accounts, it is expected to remain one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies over the coming years. And even after a banner 2023 during which the country’s benchmark indexes surged and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated high-profile successes—from historic technological and space exploration achievements to rising global diplomatic clout—this election year has already marked more progress in supporting Modi’s pro-growth, pro-jobs efforts.

The world’s most populous nation has advanced ties with Western countries over free trade. In addition to agreements with Australia and the United Arab Emirates, it has worked to better integrate the “Global South’s” development needs and ambitions with that of the G20. Modi has touted innovative partnerships for a new multilateral rail and sea corridor to connect India with the Middle East and the European Union (EU)—seen as a counterweight to China’s vast Belt-and-Road infrastructure corridor.

India reached its latest notable trade pact, nearly 16 years in the making, in March with the European Free Trade Association—Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The agreement lifts Indian tariffs to secure US$100 billion in foreign direct investment commitments from the non-EU markets to India across multiple sectors.

Click on chart to enlarge

With India still an enviable investment powerhouse, it seems important to clarify a few aspects of this dynamic equity market.

How exchange-traded funds (ETFs) treat India capital gains tax (CGT)

Foreign investors should be aware that CGT is an integral part of investing in Indian equities that cannot be circumvented. Investors in India funds are subject to CGT implications regardless of fund provider, and CGT is based and calculated on a fund as a whole, not an individual investor’s position.

The details: Foreign investors owning local Indian stocks are subject to taxation on capital gains at a short-term rate of 15% for positions held for less than one year and at a long-term rate of 10% for positions held over one year.

To accrue or not to accrue: Consistent with market practice for US-listed India ETF providers, Franklin Templeton accrues unrealized CGT in its daily net asset value (NAV). This can lead to differences in performance relative to the benchmark, which does not include CGT. As a result, rising markets will typically lead to fund underperformance against a benchmark, while weaker market environments will typically generate outperformance (provided the fund is in an unrealized capital gain position where the current market value of fund holdings is above their historical book cost). See chart below.

Click on chart to enlarge

For UCITS-listed India funds, there is a divergence in methods utilized by fund providers in accruing and reporting CGT. Some do not accrue unrealized CGT in the NAV, but will charge CGT to investors directly at redemption, which we believe leaves investors with a level of opaqueness and uncertainty over their ultimate proceeds. This method also creates an elevated NAV compared to what investors will actually experience.  While Franklin Templeton’s approach to CGT may at times lead to a higher tracking difference,1 we believe investors benefit from increased transparency and a more reflective experience.

The magnitude and impact of CGT for a specific fund is heavily dependent on several variables, such as the timing of purchases and sales, performance of the holdings and their volatility, and the size of flows in and out of the fund relative to its assets under management (AUM).

Understanding the impact: The CGT impact to fund performance is driven by the path of returns, timing of individual lots and price points. Very broadly speaking, in rising markets, an NAV-accruing fund will likely underperform its benchmark and vice versa.

Consideration of comparability: Because different providers handle CGT differently, the comparability of fund performance metrics may be affected. As investors, it’s prudent to consider how these nuances may influence investment decisions within the broader context of your financial strategy.

The bigger picture: While CGT considerations are important, they should be viewed within the broader spectrum of investment objectives and risk tolerance. Taking a long-term perspective and being mindful of other important characteristics of the investment vehicle of choice may aid in the decision-making process.

In summary, India remains an attractive investment destination with compelling growth prospects for its equity markets. Investors seeking India allocation through an ETF should be aware of the current tax regime and what varying methods of accounting methodologies really mean for fund valuation.



All investments involve risks, including possible loss of principal.

Equity securities are subject to price fluctuation and possible loss of principal. International investments are subject to special risks, including currency fluctuations and social, economic and political uncertainties, which could increase volatility. These risks are magnified in emerging markets. Investments in companies in a specific country or region may experience greater volatility than those that are more broadly diversified geographically.

ETFs trade like stocks, fluctuate in market value and may trade above or below the ETF’s net asset value. Brokerage commissions and ETF expenses will reduce returns. ETF shares may be bought or sold throughout the day at their market price on the exchange on which they are listed. However, there can be no guarantee that an active trading market for ETF shares will be developed or maintained or that their listing will continue or remain unchanged. While the shares of ETFs are tradable on secondary markets, they may not readily trade in all market conditions and may trade at significant discounts in periods of market stress.

Commissions, management fees, brokerage fees and expenses may be associated with investments in ETFs. Please read the prospectus and ETF facts before investing. ETFs are not guaranteed, their values change frequently, and past performance may not be repeated.

Any companies and/or case studies referenced herein are used solely for illustrative purposes; any investment may or may not be currently held by any portfolio advised by Franklin Templeton. The information provided is not a recommendation or individual investment advice for any particular security, strategy, or investment product and is not an indication of the trading intent of any Franklin Templeton managed portfolio.


This material is intended to be of general interest only and should not be construed as individual investment advice or a recommendation or solicitation to buy, sell or hold any security or to adopt any investment strategy. It does not constitute legal or tax advice. This material may not be reproduced, distributed or published without prior written permission from Franklin Templeton.

The views expressed are those of the investment manager and the comments, opinions and analyses are rendered as at publication date and may change without notice. The underlying assumptions and these views are subject to change based on market and other conditions and may differ from other portfolio managers or of the firm as a whole. The information provided in this material is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any country, region or market. There is no assurance that any prediction, projection or forecast on the economy, stock market, bond market or the economic trends of the markets will be realized. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount that you invested. Past performance is not necessarily indicative nor a guarantee of future performance. All investments involve risks, including possible loss of principal.

Any research and analysis contained in this material has been procured by Franklin Templeton for its own purposes and may be acted upon in that connection and, as such, is provided to you incidentally. Data from third party sources may have been used in the preparation of this material and Franklin Templeton (“FT”) has not independently verified, validated or audited such data.  Although information has been obtained from sources that Franklin Templeton believes to be reliable, no guarantee can be given as to its accuracy and such information may be incomplete or condensed and may be subject to change at any time without notice. The mention of any individual securities should neither constitute nor be construed as a recommendation to purchase, hold or sell any securities, and the information provided regarding such individual securities (if any) is not a sufficient basis upon which to make an investment decision. FT accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss arising from use of this information and reliance upon the comments, opinions and analyses in the material is at the sole discretion of the user.

Products, services and information may not be available in all jurisdictions and are offered outside the U.S. by other FT affiliates and/or their distributors as local laws and regulation permits. Please consult your own financial professional or Franklin Templeton institutional contact for further information on availability of products and services in your jurisdiction.

Issued in the U.S.: Franklin Resources, Inc. and its subsidiaries offer investment management services through multiple investment advisers registered with the SEC. Franklin Distributors, LLC and Putnam Retail Management LP, members FINRA/SIPC, are Franklin Templeton broker/dealers, which provide registered representative services. Franklin Templeton, One Franklin Parkway, San Mateo, California 94403-1906, (800) DIAL BEN/342-5236,

CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are trademarks owned by CFA Institute.


1. Tracking difference is the difference between the return of the ETF and that of its underlying index.

Get Content Alerts in My Inbox

Receive email alerts when a new blog is posted.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *