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India working towards becoming $5 trillion economy by 2025, says President Ram Nath Kovind

Jun 19, 2018

India is striving to become a USD 5 trillion economy and the world’s third largest consumer market by 2025, President Ram Nath Kovind has said as he highlighted investment opportunities in the country. Kovind, the first Indian president to travel to Greece in 11 years, arrived here on Saturday on the first leg of his three-nation tour. Addressing the diaspora here, he said his visit will strengthen ties between India and Greece.
 
Kovind praised overseas Indians for playing an important role in improving bilateral relations. Greece and India presented the ideals of civilisation and culture in the ancient world. The relations between the two countries are very old and deep. Greek historian Megasthenes introduced India to the world through his book ‘Indica’, the president said. We are working towards making India a USD 5 trillion economy and the world’s third largest consumer market by 2025. According to the World Bank and IMF, our growth rate is going to be high, he said.
 
Currently India’s economy is estimated at USD 2.5 trillion. Kovind said India had a very strong position in the world with the perspective of democracy, demographic divided and demand. “We are proud of our overseas Indians and their successes. Today there are plenty of opportunities for business, innovation and investment in India. I hope that whatever you can do for the development of India for the motherland, you will do that, he said.
 
India-Greece bilateral trade stands at USD 530 million and some Indian companies are also present in the infrastructure, pharmaceutical and steel sectors in the central European nation.
    
Source: Financial Express



Global trade facing serious headwinds; need to tackle challenges properly, says Suresh Prabhu

Jun 19, 2018

Global trade is facing headwinds and these challenges are needed to be tackled properly to boost world economy, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said today. He said there are several empirical evidences that growth in global trade helps boost domestic economies as well and “therefore we really need to focus on it adequately.
 
The US decision to impose high import duties on certain steel and aluminium products have led to a trade war kind of situation, with other countries too raising their tariff walls. We are facing serious headwinds at a time when the global economy post 2008 had become extremely fragile. Institutions are under deep scrutiny.
 
This was the first time in the last several decades, we are seeing that people are challenging not only the institutions but also the concept of trade itself. It is really a very serious issue. We need to tackle it properly because world trade benefits all and it has been demonstrated, he said here at a CII function.
 
Emphasising on the importance of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the minister said he is talking to some countries to make sure that the WTO becomes more relevant to global trading system. …WTO must be reformed. Institutions need to be reformed but we need WTO to promote global trade, he added.
    
Source: Financial Express



Govt asks exporters to comply with global standards to tap intl. markets

Jun 19, 2018

The government today said exporters, particularly from the food and agriculture sectors, should strictly comply with global norms for quality and standards, or else they might lose their export market share to other countries. 
 
Emphasising on the importance of adopting best standards for goods and services, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said it is critical to promote manufacturing, exports and enhancing participation of domestic industry into global value chains. 
 
She said in the food and agriculture sectors, Indian exporters are repetitively facing trade barriers on account of compliance issues. 
 
Such situations are prevalent in discerning markets like the US, European Union and Japan and if Indian producers are unable to meet mandatory obligations for standards including the sanitary and phytosanitary (related with plants and animals) measures, we may lose our share of export market to other countries, she said. 
 
    
Source: Economictimes.indiatimes



Trade row: India, US officials to hold meet on June 26

Jun 19, 2018

Senior trade officials from India and the US will hold a crucial meeting on June 26 to hammer out solutions to contentious trade issues, including the additional duty slapped by the Trump administration on Indian steel and aluminium, that have threatened to escalate into a broader trade war, sources told FE. The US delegation will be led by assistant US trade representative (south and central Asian affairs) Mark Linscott. Both the sides will first try to address low hanging fruits, including greater market access for each other’s products, in the meeting and see how to resolve all the crucial issues without further flaring up the situation, said one of the sources.
 
New Delhi has proposed to impose up to 50% extra duty on 30 American goods, including Harley Davidson bikes, almonds and apples, stung by the US move to slap additional 25% import tariff on steel and 10% on aluminium supplies from a number of countries, including India. It raised a complaint against the US duty at the WTO, seeking retaliation claim to recoup the cost of $241 million levied on its steel and aluminium exports. India’s proposal for retaliation came after its efforts to persuade the US to exempt it from the extra levy on the metals failed to elicit a positive response. The next week’s meeting will lend more clarity as to where both the sides are heading and how serious are both the sides in addressing each other’s concerns.
    
Source: Financial Express



Modi hints at more steps to push growth to double digit

Jun 19, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the Indian economy grew at a healthy 7.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017-18 and the challenge now is to turn this to double digits.
 
In his opening speech at the fourth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog, Prime Minister Modi said that the challenge now is to take this growth rate to double digits, for which many more important steps have to be taken.
 
He said that the vision of a New India by 2022, is now a resolve of the people of our country.
 
In this context, he mentioned the issues, including doubling of farmers income, development of aspirational districts, Ayushman Bharat, Mission Indradhanush, Nutrition Mission and celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
 
The Prime Minister said that 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centres are being constructed under Ayushman Bharat.
 
He said about 10 crore families will be provided health assurance worth Rs. 5 lakhs every year. He said a comprehensive approach is being adopted for education, under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan.
 
The Prime Minister said that schemes such as Mudra Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana and Stand Up India, are helping in greater financial inclusion. He emphasized the need for tackling economic imbalances on priority.
 
He said that all aspects and parameters of human development need to be addressed and improved upon in the 115 aspirational districts.
 
Modi said that the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan has emerged as a new model for implementation of schemes. He said that this has so far been extended to 45,000 villages in the Aspirational Districts.
 
He said that the target is universal coverage in seven important welfare schemes: Ujjwala, Saubhagya, Ujala, Jan Dhan, Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, Suraksha Bima Yojana, and Mission Indradhanush. He said this target was recently accomplished in about 17,000 villages.
 
The Prime Minister said that India has no shortage of capabilities, capacities and resources.
 
He said that in the current financial year, States are receiving over 11 lakh crore rupees from the Centre, which represents an increase of about 6 lakh crore rupees, from the last year of the previous government.
    
Source: Sme Times



Government committed to meet fiscal deficit target of 3.3 per cent this year: Piyush Goyal

Jun 19, 2018

The government is committed to meeting the fiscal deficit target of 3.3 per cent for the current fiscal despite it being an election year, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said today. 
 
He also said that there will not be a spending cut to meet the target as the government has enough alternative resources for planned expenditure. 
 
Fiscal deficit stood at 3.53 per cent of the GDP, broadly in line with the government's revised estimates for 2017-18. 
 
    
Source: Economictimes.indiatimes



Prabhu's recent US visit to help sort trade issues: CII

Jun 19, 2018

Industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has expressed satisfaction over Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu's visit to the US, viewing that it would help to set a roadmap to resolve bilateral trade issues expeditiously.
 
To take forward the robust commercial ties with the United States and to resolve outstanding bilateral trade issues, a delegation led by Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu visited USA on 10-12 June 2018 for meetings with his US interlocutors.
 
During the visit, he held series of discussions with key officials including the US Trade Representative, Robert E. Lighthizer, Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Wilbur L. Ross and Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. Sonny Perdue. 
 
India and the US have agreed to hold official talks soon to address the bilateral trade issues in a decision that was taken during a series of meetings Prabhu had with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer in Washington during the Indian Minister's visit from June 10 to 12. 
 
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) understands that officials of USTR may travel to India very soon. CII hopes the trade package to be negotiated would include the renewal of Generalized System of Preferences benefits for India which accounts for nearly $6 billion of Indian exports to the US, CII said in a release. 
 
During the (Prabhu) visit, it was stressed that India's recent purchases of US-made civilian aircraft and procurement of petroleum and LNG from the US have helped balance India-US trade. Bilateral trade has increased by more than 15 per cent to $74.5 billion in 2017-18, it added. 
 
In March, US President Donald Trump slapped import tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium, unfolding the prospect of an all-out global trade war as China retaliated to this and a subsequent US tariff imposition. 
 
India has sought an exemption from the US tariffs along the lines the US has allowed to the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea.
 
Prabhu had earlier said that India would bilaterally take up the issue of recent trade protectionism measures with the US.
 
During his visit, he also addressed business and industry leaders in meetings organised by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) and US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) and met other stakeholders.
 
It's a great time to join hands with each other and that is the realisation within the (US) administration as well. As you know, we always hear about trade disputes between the US and India, but when I had a meeting with the USTR, the Commerce Secretary, Agriculture Secretary, Senators, it is very clear that we must move on, keeping the issues behind, Prabhu told industry leaders at a reception hosted by USIBC.
 
His industry meetings included senior officials from major American companies such as Boston Scientific, FedEx, Walmart, Abbott, UTC, Honeywell, PhRMA, MoneyGram, Lockheed Martin, Koch Industries, Amway, Uber and 21st Century Fox.
    
Source: Sme Times



Push collaboration with countries leading in AI: Study

Jun 19, 2018

A recent ASSOCHAM-PwC joint study has suggested the Government to drive cross-border collaboration with countries leading in AI (artificial intelligence) research whereby government departments like the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Department of Science and Technology (DST) may take the lead in developing such relationships.
 
It suggested that forming cooperative relationships with some of the frontrunners—such as Japan, the UK (United Kingdom), Germany, Singapore, Israel and China—to develop solutions that tackle social and economic challenges can aid and accelerate strategy formulation in AI, ML (machine learning) and other new-age technologies in India.
 
Exchanging best practices and learnings from prior initiatives is one way of strengthening cooperation, noted the study titled Advance artificial intelligence for growth: Leveraging AI & robotics for India's economic transformation, jointly conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and multinational professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
 
The study also suggested that policy planning in AI must be aimed at creating an ecosystem that is supportive of research, innovation and commercialisation of applications.
 
While academia and the private sector focus their research activities on finding applications with diverse usage, the public sector, with its various schemes (Digital India, Make in India, Skill India, etc.), could identify areas where specific applications of AI and robotics can be utilised to increase reach, effectiveness and efficiency, thus giving direction to existing innovation across different fields.
 
Setting up digital data banks and exchanges to stream-in information from across industries together with revision of secondary school and university curricula to inculcate interest in AI will help create enabling environment for AI-led growth.
 
Another enabling factor for AI growth would be setting up centres of excellence supporting inter-disciplinary research across law, medicine, engineering, management and the social sciences.
 
Highlighting the need for a practical and pragmatic approach towards use of AI, the study said, Government could act as a catalyst in furthering growth by opening training centres focused on equipping young individuals with high-end skills in the field of analytics and ML, which, in turn, could be tied in with inviting data-driven global enterprises to set up their centres of excellence in India.
 
It added that this could be an extension of the Digital India and National Skill Development initiatives to meet the growing demand of analytical and AI competency, which would be beneficial for country's human capital.
 
With a view to ensure that innovation is directed towards effective pursuits and does not clash with human interests, collaborative efforts and ongoing dialogue between the three pillars of AI-based research—academia, the public sector and private sector—should be encouraged.
    
Source: Sme Times



Committee to examine using MNREGA in agriculture

Jun 19, 2018

The Central government is mulling to link MNREGA with the agriculture sector in a way that the rural employment scheme and the demands of labour in agriculture complement each other, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said here on Sunday.
 
The government has formed a seven-member committee of the Chief Ministers to examine the feasibility of the idea and the way to implement it, he said.
 
The committee would examine the feasibility of using the employment generated under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in agriculture related activities both pre-harvest and post-harvest, Rajiv Kumar said.
 
The committee, headed by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and comprising his counterparts Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Vijay Rupani (Gujarat), Nitish Kumar (Bihar), Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), N. Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh) and Pawan Chamling (Sikkim), would be notified on Monday. 
 
Under MNREGA, the Central government has to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed employment involving unskilled manual work in a financial year to every household in rural areas as per demand.
    
Source: Sme Times



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