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PM Modi plans Bhutan trip to boost regional link
Jul 15, 2019
PM Modi is planning to visit Bhutan as part of his ‘neighbourhood first’ policy, with an eye on boosting regional connectivity through multi-modal transport system.
Neighbourhood continues to be a priority for Modi as he visited the Maldives and Sri Lanka on his maiden and second trip abroad, respectively, within two weeks of taking charge in his second term. Bhutan was his maiden destination after he was elected as the PM for the first time in 2014.
Bhutan is India’s closest neighbour and the PM’s visit is expected to give fillip to sub-regional cooperation, including connectivity.
Last week, Bhutan’s cargo was shipped for Bangladesh via an Indian river for the first time. One thousand metric tons of stones from Bhutan are being transported to Bangladesh using the Brahmaputra by ship MV AAI, which set sail from Dhubri in Assam on Friday. The Inland Waterways Authority of India’s ship will reach Narayanganj in Bangladesh with the Bhutanese cargo. The stones were transported by trucks from Phuentsholing in Bhutan to Dhubri.
Transport of cargo through this route will cut short travel time by 8-10 days and reduce transportation cost 30%.
India will seek to operationalise the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement that also feeds into seven-member BIMSTEC grouping. Bhutan on its part has fended off Chinese pressure and desires status quo in Dokalam.
Discussed issues to strengthen India-US trade ties: Piyush Goyal
Jul 15, 2019
Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said that India and the US deliberated on several issues to take their trade relationship to the next level, after bilateral talks resumed amid rising trade tensions between the two countries.
American trade officials were on a two day visit to New Delhi for a relationship-building with Indian government counterparts, including introductory meetings for the new assistant United States Trade Representative (USTR) for India. Assistant Christopher Wilson and deputy assistant Brendan Lynch were in New Delhi July 11-12.
Talks took place for the first time after the US withdrew duty free benefits to Indian exporters and India imposed retaliatory tariffs on imports from the US, a move for which Washington dragged India to
dispute at the World Trade Organization.
Met the United States Trade Representative team today to strengthen India-US trade ties. We deliberated on several issues to take our deep, historic and strong trade relationship to the next level, Goyal said in a tweet after meeting the US TR delegation on Friday.
The delegation visited India to “explore potential for enhanced bilateral trade and economic engagement with India under the new government, the commerce and industry ministry said in a statement.
Chile-led Pacific Alliance complements India's Indo-Pacific construct
Jul 15, 2019
Chile, riding on Pacific Alliance (PA) Presidency, hopes to emerge as a key partner for India in the Indo-Pacific region amid efforts by the Alliance to explore cooperation beyond Latin America to thwart trade protectionism.
Further Chile has identified climate change, digital economy, e-commerce and fight against corruption as its priorities finding a common ground with the Modi government. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has met PM Narendra Modi twice since last November -- on the sidelines of the G-20 Summits in Argentina and Japan. Chile besides India has also been invited at the G-7 Summit in France in August and the two leaders might meet there.
PA led by Chile hopes to complement India’s Indo-Pacific construct. With India looking to add momentum to the Indo-Pacific construct extending from Eastern Africa to the Pacific, the Pacific Alliance could provide an appropriate platform.
President Ram Nath Kovind visited Chile earlier this April and the two sides signed three MoUs in the fields of mining, culture and disability. Chile is the sixth largest trading partner of India in the Latin American region. The bilateral trade between the two nations registered an impressive increase of 50 per cent in 2017-18, to reach $ 2.8 billion. The two also has Preferential Trade Agreement or PTA.
The President had invited Chilean companies to invest in Indian mining, infrastructure, defence and food processing sectors under 'Make in India', 'Smart Cities' and 'Digital India' programmes. Given our commitment to environment and sustainability, India is particularly keen to strengthen lithium partnership with Chile...Indian companies are also eager to strengthen their presence in Chile especially in IT, pharma, automobiles and mining sectors, Kovind said. India is seeking to source lithiufrom Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.
Hopeful of addressing India's concerns in RCEP: Indonesian Trade Minister
Jul 15, 2019
The Asean troika led by Indonesia had a fruitful and very frank dialogue with India on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and efforts are on to address Delhi’s concerns ahead of a meeting on the proposed trade agreement in China later this month, Indonesian trade minister Enggartiasto Lukita has told ET.
Efforts are ongoing to substantially conclude RCEP by end of 2019, Lukita said after a meeting with commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal here last Tuesday. We had very good and very fruitful meeting with the Indian commerce minister. The dialogue was frank, open and positive. We will work towards addressing India’s concerns.
Indonesia is the RCEP coordinator and leads the troika that also comprises Thailand’s trade minister and the Asean secretary general.
It is not India alone that has concerns over elements of RCEP. Indonesia also has some concerns, which we are trying to address, Lukita pointed out while stating that he remains hopeful that India’s interests can be safeguarded in RCEP. “This meeting helped in developing better understanding of India’s concerns, the minister noted.
RCEP is a proposed regional economic integration agreement among the 10 Asean countries and its six free-trade agreement partners—Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, South Korea and India.
Sri Lanka keen on enhancing connectivity with Indian ports
Jul 15, 2019
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) is keen on enhancing connectivity with Indian ports using ferry services to facilitate easier trade and tourism, its chairman Kavan Ratnayaka said.
If the two countries can set up a ferry service connecting Kankesanthurai port (KKS) in Jaffna with Karaikal near Puducherry, and similarly between Colombo and Tuticorin in south India, there is scope for increased trade activity and tourism, he told The Hindu.
The ferry connection, he said, would primarily facilitate tourism and small-scale trade both ways. It will help especially with Buddhist tourism from the south of the island, and by extension people-to-people connections,he said. Further, the KKS Port will facilitate increased trade opportunities for communities living in proximity to the port and reduce the cost of road and rail transport for bulk items such as cement. In 2011, India and Sri Lanka launched a ferry service between Tuticorin and Colombo, but it was soon terminated after private operators running it said it was not commercially viable.
DPIIT to soon float draft national retail policy to seek stakeholders' views
Jul 15, 2019
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade will soon float draft national retail policy, aimed at promoting growth of 65 million small traders, to seek views of stakeholders, a top official said. The policy will streamline the retail trade and promote ease of doing business in the sector.
The main elements of the policy include promoting ease of doing business, licensing, access to funds, direct selling, and hyper-market related matters.
It will also focus on ways how to promote growth of retail sector, increase in digital payment, reducing infrastructural bottlenecks, the official said.
The department has completed consultations on the proposed policy and "we are in the process of drafting it which will be soon put for public comments", the official added.
NMPT to focus on containers, coastal cargo to boost growth
Jul 15, 2019
New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) is aiming to handle a traffic of 50 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) in the next three-four years, according to Venkata Ramana Akkaraju, Chairman.
He told BusinessLine on Friday that the port handled 42.5 million tonnes of cargo in 2018-19. “Our plan is to take it to 44 MTPA in the current fiscal, he said, adding that it will be increased to 50 MTPA in the next three-four years. To achieve this, he has set sights on container and coastal cargo, as also handling cruise vessels. He felt that NMPT needs to unlock the value proposition of these services.
Venkata Ramana Akkaraju assumed charge as NMPT Chairman on June 11.
On the plans for container cargo, he said NMPT would go in for a concession agreement to operate a container terminal at berth No. 14. Post the agreement, container operations are expected to start during 2020-21 from the terminal. He said the improvement of coastal shipping would be one of the focus areas for him. Coastal cargo contributes around 7 MTPA to the overall traffic of the port. His intends taking this to 10 MTPA in the coming years.
He said NMPT would provide special discounts for coastal vessels and offer priority berthing facility to them. The port will also have a strategic discussion with Concor to improve coastal cargo .
He is also mulling the idea of transporting four-wheelers in containers from manufacturing centres to NMPT’s hinterland. All these measures are being contemplated to improve the coastal cargo at the port, he said.
The Hindu Businessline
ICAR to study zero budget farming before its rollout
Jul 15, 2019
The government has asked the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), India’s top farm research institution, to conduct a study on the efficacy zero budget farming (ZBF) results before its nationwide rollout. NITI Aayog member and agricultural economics and policy expert Ramesh Chand told ET reports were expected in two to three months.
There is no scientific evidence till now on the results of zero budget farming. We will first assess the report, which ICAR will be submitting, before reaching to any conclusion, said Chand.
Zero-budget farming is being promoted in several areas as a low-cost, natural alternative to prevalent practices of heavy use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which can degrade the soil and leave toxic residue in the harvested crop.
Chand said that the state government and few universities in Karnataka have also conducted scientific analysis on ZBF on both Rabi and Kharif crops. “The reports of Rabi crops have come which is a mixed bag. We are now waiting for report on the ongoing Kharif plantations which is likely to be out late this year, he said.
Agri supply chain facilities nearing completion in dist
Jul 15, 2019
Agriculture marketing and agri business department officials on Sunday said the seven primary processing centres and cold storage facilities in the district were nearing completion and they would be functional in two months.
An official said works to electrify the facilities were underway. As soon as the work to provide power connections is over, we would install machinery at all the facilities. A meeting has been arranged in the coming week to discuss the same. The works would hopefully get over in a couple of months and operations are expected to start after that.
The primary processing centres would come up at Chikkadasampalayam, Sulur, Vadakkipalayam, Pooluvampatti, Pitchanur, Anaimalai and Pollachi under the supply chain management scheme. They would be equipped with the machinery to process a crop that is cultivated extensively in the area. Sulur is being developed as a main market for horticulture produce and an export zone to Kerala.
The Sulur facility is being developed at a cost of Rs 9.8crore and it would house equipment worth Rs 3.23crore. While the department is planning to operate the facilities at other six locations through farmer producer organizations, which are groups of 100 farmers each, it is yet to decide on the mechanism of operating the facility at Sulur.
The main purpose of the supply chain management scheme is to reduce post-harvest losses by offering farmers cold storage and preservation facilities. They could also do preliminary value addition such as cleaning and grading at the primary processing centres. The facilities would also help them manufacture value-added products from their produce, thereby reducing losses in glut season. Farmers could also sell their produce directly to retailers, thereby eliminating middlemen.
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