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FSSAI notifies Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2017

Mar 23, 2017

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), after due consultation with stakeholders, has notified the Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulations, 2017, as provided in the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and for the purpose of streamlining the process of clearance of imported food in an efficient and transparent manner.
 
These regulations lay down the procedure for clearance of food products imported into India and include various provisions related to the licensing of food importers, clearance of imported food by the apex regulator, food import clearance for specific purposes, storage, inspection and sampling of imported food, laboratory analysis of samples of imported food articles, prohibition and restriction on food imports, amenable food labelling provisions for ease of trade and privilege for importers to get their concerns, if any, addressed in respect of the clearance of their food products.
 
Along with the aforesaid provision, it also specifies the scheme for risk-based sampling imported food articles, which facilitate ease of doing business, while not compromising on the health of the Indian public. These regulations will come into force from the date of its notification in the Official Gazette of India.
 
A number of food products are being imported into India from overseas. As per the mandate for providing safe and wholesome food to the public, FSSAI is making its presence felt at various ports for the checking and clearance of safe food. Authorised officers have been appointed by the apex regulators to these ports, and are performing their duties through the food import clearance system (FICS).
    
Source: FNB News



China, EU ban meat exports from Brazil following anti-corruption probe

Mar 23, 2017

China and the European Union (EU) curtailed meat imports from Brazil recently after police, in an anti-corruption probe criticised by the government as alarmist, accused inspectors in the world’s biggest beef and poultry exporter of taking bribes to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats.
 
As the scandal deepened, Brazil’s agriculture minister Blairo Maggi said the government had suspended exports from 21 meat processing units.
 
But he also criticised the investigation by the country’s Federal Police into meat packing companies, calling their findings alarmist, and stating that they used a few isolated incidents to tarnish an entire industry that maintains rigorous standards.
 
An all-out ban on Brazilian meat exports would be a disaster, Maggi said, adding, “I pray, I hope, I work so that does not happen.”
 
With other import curbs expected to follow, the scandal, stemming from a police operation code-named Weak Flesh, could deal a heavy blow to one of the few sectors of Latin America’s largest economy that thrived during the recession that lasted two years.
 
Police on Friday named BRF SA (BRFS3.SA) and JBS SA (JBSS3.SA), along with dozens of smaller rivals, in a two-year probe into how meat packers allegedly paid off inspectors to overlook such practices as processing rotten meat, shipping exports with traces of salmonella and simply not carrying out inspections of plants.
 
While JBS is the world's largest meat producer, BRF is the biggest poultry exporter.
 
The companies have denied any wrongdoing, and authorities have said no cases of death or illness have been linked to the tainted meat investigation.
 
New allegations of unsavoury business practices in Brazil have emerged, as the country is still reeling from a massive graft scandal, which was centred around state-controlled oil company Petrobras (PETR4.SA) and widened into other sectors.
 
Brazilian president Michel Temer sought to downplay the meat packing probe, saying it involved only 21 of Brazil’s 4,800-plus meat processing units. 
 
But Francisco Turra, who heads the Brazilian beef producers’ association (ABPA), stated that it had put the entire meat industry in jeopardy and destroyed a hard-won image of quality products.
 
China, which accounted for nearly one-third of the Brazilian meat packing industry’s exports (which were estimated to be worth $13.9 billion) last year, suspended imports of all meat products from the South American nation as a precautionary measure. 
 
The European Union suspended imports from four Brazilian meat processing facilities, ABPA said, citing the nation’s agriculture ministry. 
 
Ricardo Santin, vice president, markets, ABPA, said, “Two of the suspended plants process poultry, one beef and the other horse meat. One of the poultry plants is operated by BRF.”
 
BRF stated that it had not received any formal notice from Brazilian or foreign authorities related to the suspension of its plants.
 
South Korea's agriculture ministry stated that it would tighten inspections of imported Brazilian chicken meat and temporarily bar sales of chicken products by BRF.
 
More than 80 per cent of the 1,07,400 tonnes of chicken that South Korea imported last year came from Brazil, and BRF supplied almost half of that.
 
BRF shares slide 
On the day the meat exports were curtailed, BRF closed down nearly 2.2 per cent, while JBS ended the day up 0.75 per cent as investors bet the scandal would have less effect on the world’s largest meat packer.
 
BRF could prove more vulnerable to the scandal, since a larger share of its operations are physically based in Brazil, while JBS derives most of its sales from overseas, according to a report by Goldman Sachs analysts, led by Luca Cipiccia.
 
Shares of Minerva SA (BEEF3.SA) and Marfrig Global Foods SA (MRFG3.SA), which are not involved in the investigations, also fell as traders fretted over the possibility of further import bans.
 
The scandal could be enough to compromise temporarily Brazilian protein’s acceptance worldwide, Victor Saragiotto, analyst, Credit Suisse Securities, informed clients.
 
Chile is also temporarily banning imports of all Brazilian meat products, the agriculture ministry said.
 
The European Commission said, The scandal would not affect negotiations between the European Union and South American bloc Mercosur about agreements on free trade. 
 
On the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second largest city, the scandal left many consumers in doubt.
 
My freezer at home is full of meat, and I don’t know what to do, said Maria Fonseca, a saleswoman. Should I eat it or just throw it all away?” she asked.
 
It is an enormous waste. If I lived in the countryside, I’d start raising my own cows and chickens, Fonseca added.
    
Source: FNB News



Food Corporation of India chooses mjunction to auction foodgrains for two years

Mar 23, 2017

Food Corporation of India, the country's largest stockholder of foodgrains, has chosen mjunction to auction foodgrains for two years beginning April 2017, in a bid to provide timely and transparent distribution of foodgrains to a 4000-strong buyer base across India. For this, mjunction, the country's largest B2B e-commerce player, worked on a war footing to create a an e-auction model in just 15 days to address the existing issues and create an efficient and transparent system. In a statement issued on Wednesday, mjunction said its e-auction model will strengthen FCI's distribution mechanism, which in turn has a key role to play in addressing challenges like insufficient storage. 
 
Commenting on the development, Vinaya Varma, CEO, mjunction said: We are already in the agro-commodity market with tea. With this partnership, we are adding wheat and rice to our bouquet. Following metals, idle assets, rough diamonds and spectrum, this is one of the new areas that we are entering. mjunction is also exploring e-auction of other commodities like pulses, cotton, forest timber and produce, he added. 
 
To cater to FCI's requirement, mjunction has introduced several process improvements which include introduction of a single window for pan-India e-auction and an automated end-to-end service. The process automation will reduce turnaround time, benefitting both buyer and FCI. A buyer will not have to open separate windows for each state auction and can access these auctions with a single login screen simultaneously. The buyer can also download the sale orders, release orders from multiple states using the same login ID from anywhere in the country. 
 

 

    
Source: The Economic Times



Edible oil imports may fall to 14 mt on record oilseeds output

Mar 23, 2017

India's edible oil imports are likely to fall for the first time in recent years to 14 million tonnes in 2016-17 against 14.6 million tonnes reported last year.
 
Atul Chaturvedi, President, Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEAI), informed that an increase in oilseeds production for the year 2016-17 would improve the availability of oilseeds and will revive the country's crushing industry, which has been starving for the raw material.
 
As against the country's total edible oil consumption of nearly 21 mt, the domestic production is hardly 6-6.5 mt, while India has to import nearly 15 mt to bridge the gap between demand and supply.
 
Demand for edible oil has been rising at a pace of 3-4 per cent per annum, which is 700,000-800,000 tonnes per annum.
 
Fortunately, this year we had a bumper groundnut and soyabean crop and now in Rabi, we are expecting a record crop of rapeseed of around 7 mt. With this, we are expecting an increase in availability of edible oil and for the first time, this will check the rising import after many years," added Chaturvedi.
 
On the fortification of edible oils, Chaturvedi informed that the Government was keen to promote food fortification and recently FSSAI had issued a draft Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Amendment Regulations, 2016 prescribing the standards for fortification of various foods, including edible oils.

 

    
Source: The Hindu Business Line



Government considering reimposing import duty on wheat: Ram Vilas Paswan

Mar 23, 2017

Government is considering bringing back import duty on wheat to protect farmers' interest after a bumper domestic crop, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said today. 
 
Responding to concerns expressed by the opposition on farmers being forced to sell wheat below the minimum price set by the government, Paswan said import duty on wheat was zero between 2006 and 2015. 
 
In 2015, a customs duty of 25 per cent was levied on wheat which was subsequently cut to 10 per cent and totally removed in December last year. 
 
The duty was cut following fears of a spike in prices as wheat output had dropped due to hail storm, he said, adding the crop production this year has been at a record 96.64 million tons besides 6.5 million tons been in stockpile. 
 
The government had not rushed into reimposing the import duty as a precaution, as it watched if an unseasonal rain or hailstorm would spoil the crop and create a crisis, he said. 
 
Raising import duty is under the consideration of the government and we will take action (on it) soon, he said. 
 
Earlier raising the issue through a zero hour mention, Ramgopal Yadav (SP) said farmers in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh were being forced to sell their produce before the Minimum Support Price of Rs 1,625 per quintal due to cheaper imports available as a result of zero customs duty. 
 
He said the cost of production of wheat comes to Rs 1,900 per quintal and farmers were losing Rs 300 per quintal on at current MSP. 
 
Unless import duty is levied, farmer will continue to be in distress, he said. 
 
Digvijaya Singh (Cong) said MSP operation should be started in states were early variety of wheat is available. 
 
Pramod Tiwari (Cong) said 119 farmers had committed suicide in Maharashtra because of the distress caused by zero import duty and unremunerative prices. 
 
Anand Sharma (Cong) wanted to know why the import duty was cut from 25 per cent to zero in first place. 
 
T K Rangarajan (CPI-M) through another zero hour mention raised the issue of problems being faced by coconut cultivators in view of a mere 4 per cent hike in MSP. 
 
He wanted more funds be allocated from Coconut Development Board to Tamil Nadu as it accounted for the maximum coconut production at 34 per cent. 
 

 

    
Source: The Economic Times



West Bengal government prepared to meet all industry requirements: Abdur Rezzak Mollah

Mar 23, 2017

As part of its vision to develop a globally competitive food processing industry in West Bengal, the state government is prepared to meet all requirements of the industry, especially in terms of infrastructure and logistics, said Mr Abdur Rezzak Mollah, minister for food processing industry & horticulture on Wednesday. 

We are fully aware that you will invest here not for charity, but with a profit motive. That’s fair. But please let us know what we can do to prompt you to make big investments. We try and meet your requirements, the minister told a group of industry members at the CII-organised Food Processing Conclave – Opportunities in Bengal. 
 
Investing in Bengal, which boasts a long coastline, means you closest to a vast market which includes SAARC and South East Asian countries, said Mr Mollah expressing a little surprise as to why big investments have yet to happen in this sector in the state. 
 
He also said in a bid to develop a robust meat processing industry, the state government will give approval to five slaughter houses in municipalities adjacent to Kolkata. Not only fruits and vegetables, opportunities in marine products, bakery and confectionery are immense, he said, adding that all you need to ensure is quality development. 
 
Mr Pradip Kumar Mazumdar, sdviser to the chief minister on agriculture & allied Sectors, said with two-thirds of the population in West Bengal living on agriculture, there is an urgent need for constructing right policies and a sound support system. 
 
About 95% of the people engaged in agriculture are marginal farmers, and that explains why the State Government aims to transform farming into a vocation that is both economically viable and globally competitive, Mr Mazumdar said. 
 
Ms Nandini Chakraborty, secretary to the horticulture & food processing department, urged industry members and academic institutions to provide inputs as to the Government can sensitize farmers on the benefits of market linkage and the need for improved cold storage facilities and post-harvest loss. 
 
Farmers are the worst sufferers of the vagaries of nature as well as the market. Please join the Government in its efforts to make farmers aware of the best agricultural practices, Ms Chakraborty told the audience. She also added that the State Government is working on a new Horticulture and Food Processing Policy. 
 

 

    
Source: The Economic Times



Govt plans single window online system for global trade info

Mar 23, 2017

The government is planning to set up a single window online system for providing all information and services related to international trade. 
 
The plan is to provide importers and exporters the facility to submit applications and clearance documents as well as obtaining approvals and benefits electronically at a single point only in a digital mode. 
 
In case permissions are required from other regulatory agencies, they would be obtained online without traders having to approach them. 
 
The move is aimed at promoting ease of doing business and improving India's ranking. 
 
It will eliminate multiple interface with government agencies, dwell time, track goods/delivery from door to door and the cost of doing business, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) said while floating a request for proposal. 
 
The RFP for 'A Detailed Project Report On Setting Up Of/Migrating To A Fully Integrated Single Window Online System For International Trade' has been released. 
 
It said the agency should study at least 3 countries with similar scenario as compared to India in terms of rules, regulations and examine their faster approval mechanism. 
 
DIPP has also stated that it is imperative for any country that aspires to benefit from the trade activities and have a larger share of the World trade, to improve its trading environment and facilitate trading. 
 
In recent times, India has come down from the heights it had achieved in its glorious past and presently India's total share in global merchandise trade is only 1.7 per cent, it said. 
 
The rank of India, out of 189 economies, on 'Trading Across Borders' indicator of 'Doing Business' report for 2015, 2016 and 2017 has been declining -- 126, 144 and 143 respectively. 
 

 

    
Source: The Economic Times



India pushes its case at WTO headquarters in Geneva

Mar 23, 2017

A team of officials has recently visited WTO headquarters in Geneva for discussion on issues of India's interest, including the proposed trade facilitation pact in services. 
 
India has recently tabled a proposal at the WTO for an agreement on trade facilitation in services (TFS), Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. 
 
A team of capital-based officers has visited Geneva for discussion on issues of India's interest, including TFS, she said. 
 
The TFS proposal aims at liberalising rules for movement of professionals and other steps to reduce transaction costs to boost growth of the services sector. 
 
India is pitching for this trade facilitation agreement in services as the sector contributes over 60 per cent to the GDP and 28 per cent to total employment. 
 
The move is aimed at developing a broader framework governing global services in trade just like a TFA on goods. 
 
TFS will focus on issues like liberalised visa regime, long-term visas for business community and freer movement of professionals for the greater benefit of both India and the world, among others. 
 
To a separate question, she said the government has approved the proposal for redevelopment of Pragati Maidan into a world-class Integrated Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre at a total cost of Rs 2,254 crore. 
 
She also said the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) will utilise Rs 1,200 crore out of its free reserves towards funding of the project. 
 
The completion time for phase-I of the project is proposed as 24-30 months from the date of award to the project executor. 
    
Source: The Economic Times



Raindrops brought delight to tea planters in Darjeeling and Bengal foothills

Mar 23, 2017

After long winter time dry spell, wide spread rainfall has brought delight to the tea planters in Sub Himalayan West Bengal including Darjeeling, one of the highest tea producing regions of the country. The sprinkle of fresh water during 'first flush' is expected to give a heavy boost to quality and quantity both of the green beverage. 
 
One can well imagine what it is to have good rainfall after such a long dry spell that started last October and continued till February end causing us to worry over first flush production," said KK Mintri, Chairman of TeraiBSE 1.06 % Indian Planters Association. 
 
As per Indian meteorological department statistics, Sikkim and Sub Himalayan region hills has witnessed 30.6 mm rainfall during 1st to 15th March, 20% higher than usual for this period. With a steep turn, rainfall had gone up to 87% higher than average during 9th to 15th March of previous years. We expect good rainfall to continue for next couple of days, said GN Raha, senior meteorologist from IMD India. 
 
First flush or new batch of leaf after three months long no plucking and bush maintenance period from December to February comes in March in high volume and highest quality. Being highest in price, it always remains under best attention of all attached to the industry. 
 
The rainfall is expected to brighten overall first flush scenario in entire tea belt in sub Himalayan West Bengal, said R Lochan, veteran tea trader and CII North Bengal Chapter Chairman. The region including Darjeeling produces around 300 Million Kg per annum, around one fourth of national yield. 
 
Importantly, Arrival of summer always keeps planters worried about pest attack. But, good rainfall during this period has largely helped in keeping it under lower side, Lochan added. 
 
However, not everything in weather front appears quite rosy, We do not rule out possibility of heavy hailstorm during next couple of days, said Raha. 
 
And, That can be disastrous. As new and young leaves cannot withstand heavy impact of hails, it can severely alter entire scenario, said Mintri. 
 

 

    
Source: The Economic Times



GST to make exports more competitive, says Nirmala Sitharaman

Mar 23, 2017

Implementation of GST, the new indirect tax regime, would help remove barriers between the states and make exports more competitive, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said. 

GST (Goods and Services Tax) gives a feeling that market in India is one now and there are no barriers between regions or provinces. 
 
Even within the country, the value chains which will get integrated, will have a simpler and straightforward flow (of goods) and therefore, it should make exports more competitive rather than expensive, she told reporters. 
 
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has indicated that GST would be rolled out from July 1. The new tax regime would subsume all indirect taxes like excise duty, sales tax and octroi. 
 
When asked about the H1-B visa issue, she said that the US has conveyed that there is no change in the H1-B visa regime. 
 
The new US administration is focusing on the larger issue of immigration and the notification which they have given for H1-B for 2018 says there is no change in position and we find no change, she added. 
 
As the US is a key market for the IT sector, India has time and again raised its concerns on the visa policy of America. 
 
Last year, India dragged the US to the WTO's dispute settlement body against its decision to impose high fees on temporary working visas. 
 

 

    
Source: The Economic Times



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