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Fin Min chairs meeting to discuss export-infra, GDP

Sep 22, 2017

The Union Minister for Finance, Arun Jaitley today held discussions reviewing the country's economy. The prime focus was on the export scenario and infrastructure spendings.
The Finance Ministry held these talks eyeing towards boosting the domestic economic activity and facilitate growth.
Key government officials including Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar were present during the discussions.
Also Add. Principal Sec. to the PM P K Misra, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia, secretaries in the Finance Ministry and Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian were also invited for the strategic meeting.
Following the meeting, the finance ministry will be making a presentation for the PMO briefing him on the blueprint.
The discussion comes as a follow-up of the falling GDP growth rate along with slowed exports and industrial growth in the country. 
Source: KNN India

FSSAI calls for views on tolerance to max residue levels of pesticides

Sep 22, 2017

The  Food Safety and Standards Authority of  India (FSSAI) has come up with a notice calling for suggestions & views related to tolerance to harmonisation of Maximum Residue Level (MRL) of pesticides. The notice suggests restriction on the use of insecticides directly on articles of food.
It suggests new standards for Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011. If implemented it will substitute the previous standards of the regulations.
It provides that nothing in this regulation shall apply to the fumigants which are registered and recommended for use as such on articles of food by the Registration Committee, constituted under Insecticides Act, 1968.
Experts welcome move
Experts welcome the move and call it an obligation to follow for better trade assessment. Dr V Sudershan Rao, scientist, food safety division, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, said, We have obligation under World Trade Organization (WTO) to harmonise with CODEX for easy export and import.
He added, WTO suggests to member countries to take CODEX standards as guidance standards as they are scientifically  developed.  In the exercise of harmonising our standards these principles play a significant role.
Rao said, These standards are very important as per health and hygiene issue, as risk assessment takes into consideration the public health.
The notice has suggested specified insecticides which can be used in the food articles, but shall not exceed the MRL prescribed in notice.
It also stated that all these MRL or tolerance limit values are provisional for a period of five years and not fixed on the basis of actual data in the Indian context.
They may either be reviewed after five years, or as and when the relevant scientific data is made available to FSSAI.
According to the notice, the MRLs are fixed on different bases like the limits of quantification (LOQ).
If insecticides are registered under the Insecticide Act, 1968, but the label claims for the said commodities are not fixed, the MRL is to be fixed at LOQ.
MRL will also be fixed on the calculation of fats and according to the recommendation by 49th Session of Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR).
Source: FNB News

Foreign trade policy review may be delayed

Sep 22, 2017

Exporters may have to wait an extra month, or even more, for the foreign trade policy (FTP) review, earlier scheduled for September, as the government is still grappling with implementation issues related to the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The Centre has also not taken a call on the future of export incentive schemes that may no longer be permissible under the World Trade Organisation rules as India has graduated out of the list of poorer countries allowed to give export subsidies.
It is unlikely that the FTP review will be announced before October-end. It may happen even later depending on the pace at which the concerns of exporters are sorted out, a government official told BusinessLine.
The five-year FTP announced on April 1, 2015, which laid an ambitious annual target of touching $900 billion of exports by 2020, provided for a review when the policy was half-way through and not on an annual basis as was the earlier practice. The idea was not to tinker too much with the policy and instead do an analysis when it was half-way through and do course corrections if required, the official said.
Two-and-a-half-years after the FTP was announced, the Commerce Ministry finds its hands full with the number of concerns it might need to address while reviewing the policy.
Addressing the issues arising from implementation of the GST is top priority as it is bothering exporters most. The Centre has to ensure that refund of input taxes happens on time and exemptions may be given where necessary to help exporters maintain their liquidity. This can take time as not only will the Finance Ministry will have to be on board, the GST Council ultimately will have to pass the revisions, the official said, adding that the Council would next meet only sometime in October.
Sop scheme
Incentive scheme for exporters is another tricky area in the review as earlier this year the WTO declared that India’s per capita Gross National Product (GNP) exceeded $1000 for three years in a row (2013. 2012, 2015) making it ineligible for export incentives that only poorer countries are allowed.
The Commerce Ministry has to first identify the schemes that could be affected because of India’s new status and then plan how to phase out those schemes and replace them with production subsidies that are allowed under the WTO. This is again an onerous exercise, the official said.
While the Merchandise Export Incentive Scheme under which incentives based on value of exports is provided to over 7,000 items would no doubt be one of the affected schemes, the government has to examine the validity of other schemes such as interest subvention.
Ambitious target
The ambitious export target of $900 billion fixed for 2020 is also a problem since exports have moved sluggishly over the last two years hovering around $300 billion and there is no scope of reaching the target. Not only does the target need to be brought down to a realistic level, some more schemes have to be devised to accelerate exports, the official said.
Source: The Hindu Business Line

Basmati rice exports grow 32% in Q1: ICRA

Sep 22, 2017

Indian Basmati rice exports have witnessed a rebound in the current fiscal with Q1FY 2018 registering a 32% growth in exports contributed by 25% increase in realisations and 7% increase in volumes. 
This comes after a three-year consecutive decline in basmati exports till FY2017 (Rs. 21,605 crores). In the past, despite the volumes holding firm, the exports have been adversely impacted by pressure on realisations (from a peak of Rs. 77,988/MT in FY2014 to Rs. 54,011/MT in FY2017), driven by lower demand in the global market as well as lower paddy prices over the procurement seasons of FY2015 and FY2016. 
Commenting on the trend, Deepak Jotwani, Assistant Vice President, ICRABSE -0.26 % said: Basmati rice exports in the current fiscal have been encouraging, especially driven by demand from Iran. The Middle Eastern countries are the biggest importers; and also a source of volatility in demand. Demand from Iran, the second largest importer has been fairly volatile, primarily on account of import bans imposed from time to time. In Q1FY2018, Iran has been the primary contributor to growth in industry exports – contributing around 40% to the total. However, from August 2017, Iran has again discontinued importing Basmati rice from India. Resumption of imports by Iran, which is anticipated around the procurement season, would be critical for the overall demand for Basmati rice. Any delays in the same could dampen the paddy procurement in the upcoming season as well as subdue the exports outlook for H2FY2018 and FY2019. This is especially material in the light of a decline in volume sales from other key market - Saudi Arabia (13% of total exports in Q1FY2018 as against 20% in FY2017).
On the supply side, during the last procurement season of October – December 2016, Basmati paddy prices had firmed up by 20-25% across varieties, on the back of relatively lower production. During the current season, there has been rainfall deficit in the key Basmati rice-producing states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana over the previous year’s monsoon season till mid-September 2017 as well as lower water reservoir levels in Uttar Pradesh. These factors can translate into lower paddy production in the current crop season, and thus the paddy prices are likely to open firm in the oncoming procurement season. 

ICRA expects that the demand concerns in the form of Iran import ban and sluggishness from other key geographies would be overcome and export volumes in FY2018 to be around 4.1 million MT (4% higher than FY2017). 
Source: Economic times

Expect Iran letter to EXIM Bank soon on Chabahar $150mn loan

Sep 22, 2017

Iran is expected very soon to approach Exim Bank here seeking disbursement of the first tranche of USD 150 million loan to fast-track the development of Chabahar Port in the gulf nation, official sources said. 
As per the pact signed between the two nations in May last year, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of USD 85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.95 million on a 10-year lease. 
Ownership of the equipment will be transferred to the Iranian side on completion of 10 years or for an extended period, based on mutual agreement. 
The application from the Port and Martitime Ogranisation of Iran is to go to the EXIM Bank of India. As per the pact for development of the port, the contract will be activated from the day the loan is disbursed. 
We did request Iran to do some quick action to send us the first application for the credit and I am very happy to mention that this application was presented to the Central Bank of Iran to the Bank of Industries and Mines in Iran which should now be forwarded to the EXIM Bank of India... 
Very soon the first tranche of the credit line will be disbursed to the Port and Maritime Organisation in Iran, a Shipping Ministry official said. 
The Iranian side during the discussions for finalisation of contract agreement for Chabahar Port had requested for a credit of USD 150 million for its development. 
In accordance with request made by PMO of Iran, the activation of this contract is linked to provision of credit to Iran, as per the Shipping Ministry. 
Chabahar port, located in the Sistan-Balochistan province in the energy-rich Persian Gulf nation's southern coast, lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India's western coast, bypassing Pakistan. 
Last night Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said the government is hopeful that the strategic Chabahar Port in Iran will be operational by the end of 2018 and it would be a win win situation for India, Iran and Afghanistan as it would sea win win situation for India, Iran and Afghanistan as it would serve as a growth engine for the entire region. 
Source: Economic Times

Odisha may lower SGST to attract industry

Sep 22, 2017

The Odisha government is considering incentives on the State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) component to encourage setting up of manufacturing centres.
In terms of fiscal incentives, earlier the State governments used to offer Value Added Tax (VAT) reimbursement on new investments in priority sectors. Some State governments are mulling how to continue it under th GST regime, and so is Odisha, Sanjeev Chopra, Principal Secretary, State Industries Department, told BusinessLine.
We hope to finalise some broad understanding on this within the next month or so, he added.
Focus sectors
Based on focus sectors, Chopra said Odisha was trying to assess the impact of giving or not giving incentives. Broadly, the leeway that the State governments have is with respect to the SGST, he explained.
Focus or priority sector for Odisha includes ancillary and downstream industry in the metal sector; chemicals; plastics and petrochemicals; electronics manufacturing; food processing, including seafood; textiles, apparel and tourism, according to an official statement.
Some units have come up based on the commitments in the Odisha Industrial Policy Resolution, 2015. It will be unfair for the State government to back out completely on that commitment. We have a provision in the Industrial Policy that we will make suitable changes in the policy as an when the GST regime kicked in, Chopra said.
Now that it has happened, the State government is deliberating on how to move to a more finely tuned regime for SGST reimbursement, he added.
Excise exemptions
BusinessLine reported in June this year that area-based excise exemptions given to the industry by the North-Eastern and hill States, including Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, will shrink considerably under the GST regime.
Though the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has extended the area-based tax breaks for residual 10 years in August, this was largely limited to hilly states.
On whether new projects in the State can expect such incentives, Chopra said: Since there is no VAT now, whatever policy we define will apply to both existing and new units.
Odisha was in the limelight recently after it decided to withdraw a VAT deferment to Indian Oil’s Paradip Refinery in February this year. This incentive was restored in August after talks between the Centre and State.
In response to a query on how this incentive would shape up once petroleum products are brought under GST, Chopra said: We will cross the bridge when we come to it.
Source: The Hindu Business Line

WTO says global trade rebounds strongly, sees 3.6% growth in 2017

Sep 22, 2017

Buoyed by a revival import demand in Asia and North America, world trade is expected to grow 3.6% in 2017 well above last year’s lacklustre growth of 1.3%. 
The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Thursday upgraded the forecast for 2017 as trade rebounds strongly from its earlier projection of 2.4%. 
The stronger growth in 2017 was attributed to a resurgence of Asian trade flows as intra-regional shipments picked up and as import demand in North America recovered after stalling in 2016. 
The improved outlook for trade is welcome news, but substantial risks that threaten the world economy remain in place and could easily undermine any trade recovery, said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo. 
These risks include the possibility that protectionist rhetoric translates into trade restrictive actions, a worrying rise in global geopolitical tensions and a rising economic toll from natural disasters. 
However, trade growth was becoming more synchronised across regions than it had been for many years, which could make the current trend self-reinforcing, he said. 
However, the multilateral trade body expects the pace to moderate next year and is estimated at 3.2%, within a range of 1.4-4.4%. 
Source: Economic Times

South Korea calls for wider trade deal ahead of Prabhu's Seoul visit

Sep 22, 2017

The government of has expressed a desire to widen the existing trade agreement with India, a day before commerce and industry minister is to visit for a review.


However, the Government of (GoI) might not be keen on broadening the terms, a senior commerce department official indicated.


Pointing to the massive gold import from Korea in recent months apart from remaining non-tariff barriers, he said many parts of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) of 2009 needed working on.
Source: Business Standard

A new Odisha export policy soon: CM Naveen Patnaik

Sep 22, 2017

 Encouraged over the high growth rate of exports in the state, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today annonced that a new Odisha Export Policy, 2017 would be announced soon. 
Patnaik said this while inagurating a workshop on 'Export Strategy of Odisha' here. Besides, in order to ensure ease of doing business to exporters, the state is in process of accomodating all export related organisations under a single roof, Patnaik said. 
Stating that these steps will go a long way in enhancing value of exports from Odisha, Patnaik said the state had registred a significant growth in the field of exports since 2001-02. The export turnover of Odisha which was merely Rs 5063 crore in 2001-02, had increased 34 times to Rs 19082 crore in 2015-16. 
It is heartening to note that because of collective efforts of our exporters, the value of exports between 2015-16 and 2016-17 has registred a phenomenal growth of 114 per cent from Rs 19,082 crore to Rs 40,872 crore, Patnain said. 
Odisha's MSME Minister Prafulla Samal said the state had been continuously increasing for the last few years and it was a good indication for the export trade in future. He also called upon the exporters of Odisha to involve more and more in the overseas trade and tap the maximum export potential of the state. 
Source: Economic Times

Indian business delegation to visit Qatar

Sep 22, 2017

An Indian delegation comprising of senior business executives from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) would be visiting Doha from September 24-25 to explore possibilities of corporation and collaboration with their Qatari counterparts.
The forthcoming visit of the CII delegation comes within the framework of an MoU signed between the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL) and CII during the visit of Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani to India in December 2016. SCDL is the competent authority for the 2022 FIFA World Cup with all powers and authority necessary to achieve its goals.
During their visit to Doha, the CII delegation will be interacting with senior officials at SCDL and will also hold interactions/meetings with senior officials at Qatar Chamber of Commerce and industry. On this occasion, the Indian Business and Professionals Council (IBPC), which functions under the aegis of the Embassy of India, Doha, is organising a networking event on September 24, 2017, during which B2B meetings will be held. This will provide an excellent opportunity for the Qatari businessmen and investors to meet with Indian businessmen and explore possibilities of cooperation and collaboration in various sectors of mutual interest. The event will be organised at Hotel Crowne Plaza.
The CII delegation comprises of representatives from sectors like manufacturing, engineering services, Information Technology, software development, sports infrastructure, automation, energy, food processing, pharmaceuticals, sanitation, hardware manufacturing, and consultancy and they will be exploring the possibilities of doing business/investments in Qatar. Indian industry looks forward to partnering with Qatar as it seeks to develop its capacity for manufacturing and services in the coming years.
CII, founded in 1895, is a society registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860 and is a non government non-profit industry LED and industry managed organisation which works to create an environment conducive to the growth of industries in India through advisory and consultative process. The MOU between SCDL & CII establishes a partnership for coordination and cooperation between India and Qatar companies for the successful execution of FIFA World Cup tournament.
Source: The Peninsula Qatar