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Forex reserves up by $1.21 bn to reach life-time high

Apr 23, 2018

RBI data released on Friday show that India’s foreign exchange (Forex) reserves increased by $1.21 billion to touch a life-time high of $426.082 billion in the week to 13 April.
 
The overall Forex reserves rose to $426.08 billion from $424.86 billion reported for the week ended April 6.
 
Surge in foreign currency assets drove rise in forex reserves which comprise of foreign currency assets (FCAs), gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs) and the RBI's position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
 
In the previous week, forex reserves had increased by $503.6 million to $424.864 billion. 
 
Segment-wise, FCAs -- the largest component of the Forex reserves -- increased by $1.20 billion to $400.97 billion during the week under review. 
 
Besides the US dollar, FCAs consist of nearly 20-30 per cent of major global currencies. It also includes investments in US Treasury bonds, bonds of other selected governments and deposits with foreign central and commercial banks.
 
However, the country's gold reserves value remained stagnant at $21.48 billion.
 
The SDRs' value inched up by $6.6 million to $1.54 billion, while the country's reserve position with the IMF rose by $8.9 million to $2.07 billion.
    
Source: smetimes



Online Dispute Resolution to help attract FDI: Naidu

Apr 23, 2018

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu Saturday said that Online Dispute Resolution Mechanism will enhance India’s attractiveness as investment destination.
 
Inaugurate the first National Conference on Online Dispute Resolution Mechanism organized by Construction Industry Arbitration Council (CIAC), Venkaiah Naiud has said that Online Dispute Resolution Mechanism is a laudable initiative to fast-track dispute resolution and it shall go a long way in resolving disputes, attracting more foreign investment by projecting India as an investor-friendly country and strengthen economy.
 
The Vice President complimented the Ministry of Law & Justice for taking the initiative in evolving this system and said this will help courts to concentrate on access to justice to people in better manner.
 
He further said that the rapid development of the Internet and electronic commerce, Online Disputes Resolution has been labeled a logical and natural step as it facilitates expeditious resolution of disputes.
 
Naidu said that the CIAC has been closely associated with UN Commission on international trade and law.
 
He further said that domestic and international trade and commerce has spurred competition provide more opportunities and imputed risks. The commercial arbitration in India is witnessing a steady transition and it should become more simpler, he added.
 
The Vice President said that country like India having a sound legal framework and ease of doing business can become a natural choice for investors.
 
He further said that flagship programs like establishment of Smart Cities in India would require a techno-legal smart dispute resolution mechanism. People should also be made aware of the avenues available, he added.
    
Source: smetimes



India, South Africa hope to double trade by 2021

Apr 23, 2018

India hopes to double trade with South Africa by 2021, Indian High Commissioner Ruchira Kamboj said here today ahead of a high-level business summit.
 
The India-South Africa Business Summit will be held on April 29-30 at the Sandton Convention Centre here with the theme - 'United by Legacy, Unified for Prosperity' - reflecting the shared histories of the two countries.
 
The event is being organised by the high commission of India, in partnership with the ministry of commerce and industry, the department of trade and industry, Invest India, Confederation of Indian Industry, and the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency.
 
South African Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies and his Indian counterpart Suresh Prabhu will deliver the main addresses.
 
There will be very important meetings between our trade ministers and the India-South Africa CEOs' Forum, with core captains of industry from India and South Africa discussing issues that vex or are perhaps irritants in this relationship and how we can take the relationship further, Kamboj said.
 
This is the first such Business Summit ever to held in South Africa or in India. The entire focus is to maximise the potential of the economic relationship and to double trade figures from now to 2021, Kamboj said.
 
Trade figures between our countries stand roughly at USD 10 billion. We are confident that there is potential to double this figure. There are many sectors that our countries can cooperate in, she said.
 
Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) Group Executive Muzi Mathema said South Africa and India have strong trade relations but this summit is an effort to push trade relations to the next level.
 
We have to bear in mind that we are in the dawn of a growing emerging market. In 50 years' time, a third of the working force will either be in India or in other BRICS countries. If we don't start taking these initiatives now, we won't be able take advantage of the momentum in growth in our countries.
 
The emphasis is that both our countries are open for business. In our trade, we export mainly raw materials and we are trying to encourage our companies to export value-added products, and this is what we also want to do with India. We will be concentrating on this at the summit, and India will also do the same, Mathema said.
 
This conference will be a build-up to an international investment conference to be convened in September with the aim of raising USD 100 billion in FDI within the next five years, as announced by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa this week.
 
Seven parallel breakaway sessions will focus on start-ups, and automotive, health care, pharmaceuticals, mining, agro-processing, women in business and the fourth industrial Revolution, which have been identified as sectors with potential for growth in a bilateral context.
 
On the opening evening there will be a unique cultural event paying tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, produced by South African UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Gavin Rajah.

 

    
Source: moneycontrol.com



India’s GDP expected to reach $5 trillion by 2025: Economic Affairs Secretary

Apr 23, 2018

India is poised to remain the fastest growing large economy in the world and its GDP is expected to reach $5 trillion by 2025 as the economic reforms adopted in the last few years have started to bear fruit, a top Indian official has told the World Bank.
 
Giving an overview of the South Asian countries - Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said India continued to be a beacon of growth in the region.
 
India is poised to remain as the fastest growing large economy in the world. In 2018, we expect India to grow at over 7.4 per cent, Garg told the 97th meeting of the Development Committee of the World Bank here yesterday.
 
Transformational reforms such as Goods and Services Tax (GST) and initiatives such as Insolvency and Bankruptcy code, recapitalisation of banks, and unclogging of infrastructure investments will support such elevated growth, he told the World Bank.
 
In the last few years, India has undertaken massive structural reforms toward formalisation of the economy and fostering digital financial inclusion, he said, adding that the country had grown at an average of 7.2 per cent per annum in the last four years and was continuing on the trajectory of sustained growth.
 
India’s GDP is expected to reach a volume of $5 trillion by FY2025 by leveraging on digitisation, globalisation, favourable demographics and structural reforms, Garg added.
 
In the absence of Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, Garg is leading the Indian delegation for the annual Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
 
India, he said, has accorded top priority for addressing its infrastructure deficit to sustain economic growth. Steps have been taken to mobilise funds from various sources for development of infrastructure which includes, inter alia, launching of innovative financial vehicles, he added.
 
India has begun undertaking a major programme of monetising the brownfield assets of central public sector undertakings (CPSUs) as a separate asset class for infrastructure investments, Garg said.
 
In the field of digitisation, India has completed the ambitious task of connecting 100,000 gram panchayats through high speed optical fibre network under phase-I of the Bharat Net project, he said, adding that it has enabled broadband access to over 200 million Indians living in about 250,000 villages.
 
Wi-fi hotspots
 
The government also proposes to set up 500,000 wi-fi hotspots which will provide broadband access to 50 million rural citizens.
 
Around 470 Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) have been connected to the electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) network providing a unified national market for agricultural commodities, he added.
 
Garg told the World Bank that one of the key features of India’s economic performance in recent years has been the speed and scale of implementation of reforms.
 
Recent upgrade of the sovereign rating reflects India’s strength, speed and scale of these ongoing reforms, he said.
 
GST roll-out
 
Noting that India had rolled out the Goods and Services Tax in July 2017, Garg said within a short span of eight months, monthly earnings from GST have crossed $12.7 billion. The number of dealers registered in the GST database increased by about four million in the fiscal year of the roll-out which is about 60 per cent higher than unique assesses registered earlier in the VAT network.
 
India’s massive leap in the Ease of Doing Business rankings from 142 in 2014 to 100 in 2017 is a testimony to the country’s commitment to long-term reforms for an open and vibrant economy. This is also reflected in strong FDI inflows which have grown from $34.3 billion in 2012-13 to $60.1 billion in 2016-17, Garg added.
 
In the arena of financial inclusion, the Jan-Dhan Yojana, launched in August, 2014, has rapidly expanded banking services for the hitherto deprived sections. Till date, over 313 million bank accounts have been opened and $11.510 billion have been mobilised under the scheme.
 
India had also rolled out the Mudra Yojana in April 2015 and had supported over 115 million small businesses by sanctioning loans worth $77.66 billion so far.
 
Noting that India is pursuing a path of clean and climate responsible growth, Garg said the country aimed to achieve about 40 per cent cumulative installed power capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030 with the help of transfer of technology and low-cost international finance.
    
Source: thehindubusinessline



IMF expects India to play more role in Indo-Pacific growth

Apr 23, 2018

The International Monetary Fund expects India's role in the Indo-Pacific region's development to continue to expand because of its robust growth, but it has to carry out more trade reforms, Ken Kang, the deputy director in IMF's Asia Pacific Department said on Friday.
 
Given our robust growth forecast where we see India's growth rising from 7.4 per cent in 2017-18 to 7.8 per cent in 2019, we do expect India's role in the region to continue to expand, he said at a news conference in Washington.
 
That being said, India does have room to expand its export orientation and to reduce further trade and non-trade barriers, he added. 
 
The statutory tariff rate in India is relatively high at about 15 per cent, and higher than those in the rest of the region, he added. So there is room to do more on trade reform.
    
Source: smetimes



European Parliament approves new rules to ensure quality organic food

Apr 23, 2018

New rules to ensure that only high-quality organic food is sold in the European Union and to boost organic production were approved by the European Parliament recently.
 
MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) gave the go-ahead to the new EU law on organic production and labelling, as agreed by Parliament’s negotiators and EU ministers on 28 June 2017, by 466 votes in favour to 124 against, with 50 abstentions.
 
The Main Features
Ensure high quality of organic food
    • Strict, risk-based checks will take place along the supply chain - Thanks to Parliament’s insistence, checks will be carried out on-site and for all operators, at least annually or once every two years if no fraud has been found in the last three years. 
    • Imports will have to comply with EU standards - Current “equivalence” rules, requiring non-EU countries to comply with similar but not identical standards, will be phased out within five years.
Boost EU organic food production
    • Increasing supply of organic seeds and animals to meet the needs of organic farmers - Derogations allowing the use of conventional seeds and animals in organic production should expire in 2035.  
    • Mixed farms, to encourage conversion - Farms producing both conventional and organic food would be allowed, on condition that the two farming activities are clearly and effectively separated. 
    • Easier certification for small farmers - Group certification would save small farmers time and money when turning organic.
Avoid contamination from chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilisers 
    • Precautionary measures - Farmers and other operators in the food supply chain will be obliged to apply a set of new measures to avoid contamination; if a non-authorised pesticide or fertiliser is suspected to be present, the final product should not bear the organic label until further investigation; if contamination was deliberate or the operator failed to apply precautionary measures, the product will lose its organic status. 
    • Thresholds for non-authorised substances - Member states that currently apply these in organic food, such as pesticides, could continue to do so, if they allow other EU countries’ organic foodstuffs complying with EU rules to access their markets.
 
Four years after entry into force of this regulation, the Commission would report back on how efficient the EU anti-contamination rules and national thresholds are and, if need be, come up with a draft law to harmonise them.
 
The agreed text still needs to be formally approved by the Council of EU ministers before it can enter into force. It shall apply from January 1, 2021.
    
Source: fnbnews



Real GDP growth may expand to 7.4% in 2018-19: RBI Governor

Apr 23, 2018

Asserting that the Indian economy turned in a resilient performance in 2017-18, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor, Urjit Patel, has said the country’s growth is expected to accelerate next fiscal.
 
Patel was addressing the International Monetary Finance Committee here yesterday.
 
The Indian economy turned in a resilient performance in 2017-18, Patel said.
 
Although the real GDP growth was moderated to 6.6 per cent from 7.1 per cent a year ago, there was a strong rebound in the second half of the year on the back of a turnaround in investment demand, he said.
 
This was supported by an acceleration in manufacturing, rising sales growth, pick-up in capacity utilisation, strong activity in the services sector and a record agricultural harvest, the RBI Governor added.
 
Several factors are expected to help accelerate the pace of growth in 2018-19. There are now clearer signs that the revival in investment activity will be sustained, he said.
 
Real GDP growth
 
Global demand has been improving, which should encourage exports and boost fresh investments, Patel said, adding that on the whole, real GDP growth was expected to expand to 7.4 per cent in 2018-19, with risks evenly balanced.
 
In his address, Patel said since November 2016, headline consumer price inflation had generally remained below the medium-term target of four per cent. An unusual spike in vegetables prices pushed up inflation to a recent peak of 5.2 per cent in December, but it eased in subsequent months to reach 4.3 per cent in March.
 
Patel said several factors were likely to influence the inflation outlook, including a possible moderation in food prices if the monsoon turned out to be normal and was supported by an effective food supply management.
 
Countervailing this, upside risks emanate from the distinct hardening bias in crude oil prices, the steady firming up of inflation, excluding food and fuel, mirroring pick-up in domestic demand, and spillovers from financial volatility as markets re-price the path of monetary policy normalisation by systemic central banks, he said.
 
Noting that risks to inflation are tilted to the upside, the monetary policy rate was kept unchanged at 6.0 per cent in April 2018 with a neutral stance, Patel said.
 
Gross fiscal deficit
 
Asserting that the government is committed to fiscal prudence, the RBI governor said aided by buoyancy in tax revenues and rationalisation of subsidies, the gross fiscal deficit (GFD) of the Central Government has been steadily brought down since 2013-14 to 3.5 per cent of GDP in 2017-18 without compromising on public investment requirements and social sector spending.
 
GFD is budgeted lower at 3.3 per cent in 2018-19. The government has accepted a debt rule that will bring down the debt-to-GDP ratio to 40 per cent over a period of time by 2024-25.
 
Patel said the goods and services tax (GST), which was implemented from July 2017, has reformed the system of indirect taxes by simplifying payments and credits, and improving the efficiency of movement of goods across the country.
 
Automation of tax payments and ‘team-based assessment with dynamic jurisdiction’ without direct interface with tax payers has improved the overall efficiency and transparency of revenue administration, he said.
 
Current account deficit
 
Patel said with the pace of import growth relative to that of exports, the current account deficit (CAD) expanded from 0.7 per cent in 2016-17 to 1.9 per cent for the first nine months of 2017-18. External financing conditions remained comfortable, boosted mainly by robust inflows of foreign direct investment.
 
The UNCTAD’s survey of multinational enterprises ranked India as the third most favoured destination for FDI for 2017-19. Reflecting these developments, India’s foreign exchange reserves at $424 billion were equivalent of 11 months of imports, he added.
 
India has persevered with structural reforms over a wide area ranging from a flexible inflation targeting framework for monetary policy; liberalisation of FDI flows; a unique identification (Aadhaar) backed direct benefit transfers; an insolvency and bankruptcy code; the GST; realty reforms; and a swathe of measures for improvement in the ease of doing business more generally, he said.
 
These factors have improved India’s global ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business, Patel added.
    
Source: thehindubusinessline



India pushes for BRICS rating agency

Apr 23, 2018

India has urged the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries to set up an independent rating agency of the group, according to an Indian official.
 
The renewed call for setting up a BRICS Rating Agency was given by Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg at the first meeting of the BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Washington on Thursday on the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings, a Finance Ministry statement said.
 
He (Garg) requested the Presidency to receive and take forward the report to be submitted by the expert group set up under the aegis of the BRICS Business Council to study the feasibility of the BRICS Rating Agency, the statement said. 
 
At the BRICS Summit in Xiamen in China held in September last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had strongly pitched for the setting up of a rating agency to counter the western big three institutions -- S&P, Moody's and Fitch -- and cater to the financial needs of developing nations.
 
According to the Ministry, the other issues discussed during the meeting related to enhancing the project pipelines of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) evenly across member countries and expansion of the NDB's membership.
 
It also discussed the South African Presidency's proposal for setting up a working group on illicit financial flows and a BRICS Task Force on public-private partnership. 
 
Issues related to the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) as well as the BRICS Bond Fund were also discussed, the statement said.
 
Garg emphasised in his interventions that India had been a constructive participant in the discussions on NDB's membership expansion, it said. 
 
He expressed that a more careful and cautious approach on the value and additional benefits new members will bring to the Bank would be desirable rather than setting deadlines which are practically difficult to achieve, it added. 
 
On the issue of expanding the NDB's project pipeline across member nations evenly, Garg said the objective had to be balanced with the member country's requirement of infrastructure financing.
    
Source: smetimes



Krishnapatnam Port's cargo handling up by 25 percent

Apr 23, 2018

Krishnapatnam Port Company Ltd (KPCL), which runs India's largest all-weather and deep water port on the east coast, handled 45 million metric tonne (MMT) of cargo in 2017-18, achieving a 25 per cent growth over the previous fiscal's 36.10 MMT, an official said.
 
KPCL Director and CEO Anil Yenduluri told reporters here on Friday that the growth in cargo handling was impressive considering the fact that average growth rate of cargo clocked by major Indian ports was 4.79 per cent.
 
There was a record 88 per cent rise in the number of containers Krishnapatnam port handled at 4,81,408 TEUs during last fiscal as against 2,55,439 TEUs in the previous fiscal. Coal, iron ore and granite dominated the cargo portfolio handled.
 
The number of vessels visiting the port rose by 22 per cent to 1,290 in 2017-18 as against 1,061 vessels registered during 2016-17.
 
The port, located in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh, is now aspiring to achieve an impressive 52 MMT in bulk and 2 Lakh TEU in containers this fiscal.
 
According to Yenduluri, favorable government policies and handling of new cargo such as sand, steel products and agri-commodities added to the growth of shipments.
 
We are entering the 10th year of operations and KPCL is now the second largest port in India and is poised to become eastern gate way of India, he said.
 
The company is on the verge of completing its second phase of expansion which takes it capacity from current 80 million tonnes to over 100 million tonnes. The company had invested Rs 8,000 crore in the first and second phases so far.
 
After the completion of the second phase, we will finalise plans for the third phase including fund raising needs, Yenduluri said.
 
The port has planned a total investment of $3 billion of which $1.23 billion has already been invested for development till date with second phase of expansion underway.
 
KPCT recently set up a dedicated coastal cargo berth to handle the growing coastal cargo traffic and reducing the time loss.
    
Source: smetimes



India-UK free trade agreement to boost economic ties: UKIBC

Apr 23, 2018

A free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the UK will help boost two-way commerce and investments between the countries, a UKIBC's report said.
 
The UK India Business Council (UKIBC) said the joint trade review being undertaken by both the sides is an important initiative, which will secure quicker wins.
 
An India-UK free trade agreement would, no doubt, boost trade by lowering tariffs and aligning standards. This, however, will not happen quickly, the council said in its report - The UK and India: The Bilateral Trade Relationship.
 
In a FTA, two trading partners cut or eliminate duties on most number of goods traded between them besides liberalise norms to promote services trade and boost investments.
 
Besides, the report suggested for a tighter alignment of the bilateral economic architecture, including the UK-India CEO Forum and Joint Economic and Trade Committee.
 
It also called for a focused outreach campaigns in both the countries, informing trade associations about the opportunities in each other markets and ways to access them.
 
It recommended that like the UK's Department for International Trade's Export Opportunities programme, which identifies opportunities in India for UK exporters, Indian government should also consider introducing a similar programme.
 
Further, it stated that huge potential exists for businesses of both the countries to increase trade and investments.
 
UK exporters will see growth across sectors, but particularly in food and drink, healthcare, machine tools, and technology-focused areas like smart cities, cyber security and digital services, the report said.
 
It added that Indian exporters could explore areas like pharmaceutical, apparel, footwear, vehicles and electronic equipment.
 
On investment side, the report said that industry 4.0 provide opportunities for the UK and India to enhance collaboration.
    
Source: timesofindia



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