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Indian economy poised to take off, says Piyush Goyal

Jan 24, 2020

Asserting that the Indian economy is well-poised to take off, Union minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said there is a lot of enthusiasm for making investments in the country.
 
Speaking at a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual summit in Davos, the commerce and industry minister also said the government will hold discussions with Britain and European Union on free trade agreements.
 
Britain is set to leave the European Union by end of January.
 
' ... things have once again started showing an uptrend ... economy is well poised to take off from here,' Goyal said.
 
According to him, the enthusiasm to make investments in India is infectious.
 
At least four or five companies have said that more than 50 per cent of their total workforce would operate out of India in the coming years. Some of them are big names, he noted.
 
On RCEP, Goyal said it was an 'unbalanced trade agreement, which was really not fulfilling the guiding principles on which RCEP started about eight years ago, therefore India chose not to participate in it'.
 
 
Out of the RCEP countries India already has bilateral trade agreements with ASEAN 10 with Japan and Korea, we are close to concluding negotiations with Australia which we have restarted now and in the next 6 to 8 months we are can closea bilateral trade partnership with Australia, he said.
    
Source: The Times Of India



Brazil expresses willingness to import wheat, rice from India

Jan 24, 2020

Brazil on January 23 expressed willingness to import items such as wheat, rice, millets, and sorghum, from India, said an official release after a meeting of ministers of the two countries. Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar held a meeting with Brazilian Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply Tereza Cristina Correa da Costa Dias to discuss various bilateral trade opportunities, interests and issues.
 
Both ministers affirmed that agriculture is a priority for both Brazil and India and resolved to strengthen cooperation in the agriculture and allied sectors, said the release.
 
It added that Dias said both the countries share a common challenge with a huge part of the population being engaged in agriculture and most of them being small and marginal farmers with low income and lack of market access and very little access to new technology and innovations.
 
During the meeting, she said removal of bottlenecks will provide a major impetus to boosting trade and business ties.
 
She said wheat, rice, millets, and sorghum are some of the products that India would like to export to Brazil and that she will try to move forward on this as far as possible, the release quoted her saying.
 
Tomar, who also holds the portfolios of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, said the bilateral trade at USD 1.045 billion in 2018-19 was way below potential and is not reflective of the strengths of both economies and there is a need to encourage more trade given the huge complementarities and synergies that exist between India and Brazil.
    
Source: Money Control



Free Trade Agreements: Talks with European Union, UK soon, says Piyush Goyal

Jan 24, 2020

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said India would hold talks with the EU and the UK to forge free trade agreements (FTAs). He, however, insisted that the China-dominated Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact, in its present form, is an 'unbalanced trade agreement which is really not fulfilling the guiding principles on which it started'.
 
New Delhi could also clinch a trade deal with Australia — an RCEP member – in the next 6-8 months, having revived talks that were stuck, he said. Formal talks with the UK will likely start after the Brexit, which is expected to be over by January 31.
 
Speaking at a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) summit at Davos, Goyal also exuded confidence that the Indian economy is well-poised to take off and there is growing enthusiasm among foreign companies to invest in the country. At least four or five companies – some of them are big names – have said that over a half of their total workforce would operate out of India in the coming years, the minister stressed, without revealing the names of the firms.
 
'Things have once again started showing an uptrend… The economy is well poised to take off from here,' he said. Goyal’s comments assume importance as economic expansion is projected to crash to a 11-year low of 5% in FY20, hemmed in by a collapse in investment growth to just 1%. Analysts are divided over green shoots in the economy, with many predicting a longer-than-usual cycle of slowdown.
 
Also, world trade is witnessing heightened uncertainties. A trade war between the US and China and a collapse of the WTO’s dispute appellate system have only multiplied challenges for India that has been a staunch advocate of the multilateral trading system.
    
Source: Financial Express



India will decide on RCEP if concerns are addressed: MEA

Jan 24, 2020

With the ASEAN inviting India to participate in a meeting on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in Indonesia in early February, New Delhi will take a call only if gets indications that its concerns will be considered by others and addressed.
 
Raveesh Kumar, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), told journalists on Thursday that New Delhi would take a call on returning to the RCEP talks if it gets 'an indication' from the other nations participating in the negotiations for the pact that they were 'willing to consider some of the issues' which were 'of interest to' India.
 
He was responding to a question on India's view on returning to the negotiations for the RCEP agreement, as it had received an invitation from the secretariat of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to attend the meeting it would hold at Bali in Indonesia on February 3 and 4 to end the impasse caused by New Delhi's decision to withdraw from talks for the pact.
 
The invitation from the ASEAN came almost nearly three months after New Delhi pulled itself out of the negotiations for the agreement.
 
The MEA spokesperson also referred to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's recent remark India had not yet closed its mind on the RCEP. The 10 ASEAN nations – Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and Singapore – as well as the six free trade partners of the bloc – India, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea – been negotiating the proposed RCEP agreement since 2012.
    
Source: Deccan Herald



Malaysia to buy more Indian sugar to resolve palm oil spat

Jan 24, 2020

Malaysia’s top sugar refiner said it will increase purchases of the commodity from India, which according to two sources is part of efforts to placate New Delhi amid an ongoing spat over palm oil imports.
 
MSM Malaysia Holdings Berhad will buy 130,000 tonnes of raw sugar from India worth 200 million ringgit ($49.2 million) in the first quarter, the company said. It bought around 88,000 tonnes of raw sugar from India in 2019.
 
MSM is the sugar refining arm of the world’s largest palm oil producer, FGV Holdings, which is a unit of Malaysian state-owned Federal Land Development Authority (Felda).
 
The company did not cite the palm oil dispute as a reason for the increase in purchases.
 
But the two sources, who are familiar with discussions between the company and the government on the purchase, said it was a bid to appease India, which has been urging Malaysia to reduce the trade deficit between the countries.
 
India, the world’s largest edible oil buyer, this month effectively halted Malaysian palm oil imports apparently in retaliation to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s comments criticising New Delhi over its policy on Kashmir.
 
Malaysia has said it will look to other markets to sell more palm oil but that may not be easy as India has been the biggest buyer of Malaysian palm oil for the past five years, purchasing 4.4 million tonnes in 2019.
    
Source: The Times Of India



Agri-tech start-ups set to bloom on huge investments

Jan 24, 2020

Capital flows into the agri-tech start-up ecosystem are set to remain robust in the year ahead as innovations fuel digitisation of the farm sector with more farmers adopting technology solutions.
 
The segment is seen attracting interest from large mainstream venture capitalists such as Sequoia and Accel Partners, even as the existing players raise larger funds to invest in agri-tech, which attracted an all-time high investment of around $300 million in 2019.
 
'Calendar 2019 was the most active year of investing,' said Mark Kahn, Managing Partner of Omnivore Venture Capital, an agri-tech investor in the country since 2011-12. Omnivore closed seven deals in the Indian agri-tech space in 2019, its highest ever, with investments totalling Rs 100 crore.
 
Kahn estimates total investments in the agri-tech ecosystem to be at $300-350 million as against $73 million in the previous year.
 
Nasscom, in its report on agri-tech released in November, had estimated investments in Indian agri-tech at $248 million till July, 2019. Increasing smartphone penetration in the rural set-up is aiding technology adoption among the farmers, who are seeking to minimise their costs while trying to maximise their returns.
 
'The agri-tech space will continue to do well in 2020 as there is increased interest on the part of strategic, generalist venture capital and late-stage funding entities. I think because of that continued inflow and increased interest, the agri-tech sector will continue to bloom even if the overall macro-economic environment isn’t exactly great,' Kahn said. Omnivore had raised its second fund of $97 million (about ?700 crore) in April 2019 and it will be used for investments in the next three years.
 
Recently, Ankur Capital, an early stage VC fund that invests in technology focussed start-ups in agri-tech, announced the first close of its second fund of ?240 crore. Ankur has invested 70 per cent of its Rs 50 crore first fund in agri-tech companies.
    
Source: Business Line



PMO overseeing efforts to improve ranking in World Bank’s ease of doing business index

Jan 24, 2020

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is overseeing efforts to ensure that India improves its ranking further in the World Bank's ease of doing business index of 2021 and moves towards the goal of being among the top 50 countries.
 
An official told BusinessLine: 'Steady efforts are being made to improve performance in the six areas of enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency, starting a business, registering property, paying taxes and trading across borders and consultations of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade with all Ministries concerned is also on. The PMO is being updated about the progress.'
 
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the Department of Revenue are also actively involved in the efforts, the official added.
 
Of the six identified thrust areas, last year India’s performance had deteriorated in the area of registration of properties while there was no improvement in category of enforcing contracts.
 
'The idea is to focus on those criteria where India has the chance to improve compared to other competing countries,' an official said.
 
India had climbed 14 places to be ranked 63rd among 190 countries, in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2020 report released in October 2019. It performed better in six of the ten parameters used for ranking including starting a business, dealing with construction permits, trading across borders, resolving insolvency, paying taxes and getting electricity. However, it fell short of being counted amongst top 50 countries — a goal laid down by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
'The one big issue with reaching the target of top 50 is the fact that it is not merely about a particular country performing better than before. Since all other countries, too, are trying to improve their capacity to attract more investments, bringing about an improvement in ranking is not easy,' the official said.
    
Source: Business Line



1038 gram panchayats will practice organic farming in coming years: UP CM

Jan 24, 2020

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday said that 1038 gram panchayats in the districts, through which Ganga Yatra will pass, will practice organic farming in the coming years.
He was speaking while flagging off a 'rath' for the yatra scheduled from January 27 to 31. The yatra aims to raise awareness about cleanliness of the river.
 
'With the inspiration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the state government is starting 'Ganga Yatra'. Ganga is the symbol of the river civilization of India. Civilizations have developed on its banks and traditions have moved forward,' the chief minister said.
 
Adityanath stressed on making people aware about the cleanliness of the Ganga river which is not only linked to the faith but also to nation's economy.
 
'We not only repose our faith in Ganga, but our economy is also linked to the river. It is our responsibility to make people aware of the cleanliness of the Ganga,' he said.
 
Adityanath who also launched a theme song for the yatra said Ganga is a symbol of faith and all Indians consider it a part of their heritage and tradition since the Sanatan period.
 
Recounting Modi's statement in Varanasi in 2014 in which he had said that he came there for Maa Ganga, the chief minister said that the prime minister expressed his faith by implementing the 'Namami Gange' project in the entire country.
 
The chief minister said that Ganga covers 2525 km in five states in the country, of which, it covers the longest distance of 1025 km in Uttar Pradesh.
 
'The responsibility of its cleanliness is with of all us. In view of this, the state government has taken many steps to make Ganga clean and ever-flowing,' the chief minister said.
    
Source: Outlook India



India plans fourth Summit with Africa in September

Jan 24, 2020

India & Tunisia, on Wednesday, signed a memorandum of understanding on the creation of a Tunisian-Indian centre for innovation in information and communication technologies in the North African country. The two sides also discussed fourth edition of India-Africa Summit, scheduled for September 2020 in India. The third edition of the Summit was held here in 2015.
 
The memorandum was signed after a meeting between acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Sabri Bachtobji and Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
 
The meeting discussed 'the different aspects of bilateral and multilateral cooperation as well as several issues of regional and international issues of common interest.
 
Both ministers highlighted the need to continue consultations to ensure the success of the next India-Africa Summit, scheduled for September 2020.
 
They commended 'the development of the Tunisian-Indian relations which have been strengthened through exchanging visits by senior officials and organising regular sessions of the Joint Commission,' said an official statement.
 
Emphasis was placed on the need to prepare for the 13th session of the Tunisian-Indian Joint Commission and bolster cooperation in the fields of information and communication technology, scientific research and agriculture.
 
Receiving Minister of External Affairs of India at Carthage Palace on Wednesday, Kais Saied expressed Tunisia's readiness, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, to strengthen dialogue with India on all issues relating to peace and security in the world.
    
Source: The Economic Times



Wheat, gram sowing area rises in Maharashtra

Jan 24, 2020

Rabi gram has been sown over 19.6 lakh hectares, the highest since 2014-15. Rabi wheat has been sown over 8.61 lakh hectares — the largest area sown under the crop since 2017-18. This is also likely to spike the state’s production of gram and wheat in the coming period, stressed the state agriculture department officials. 
 
A report released by the ministry on the area coverage under rabi crops as on January 10, 2020, stated that higher-wheat sown area had been reported from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, among others. 
 
A state agriculture department official told TOI that area under rabi had been on the rise this time. 'When there is late rain, like it happened in September and October 2019, the moisture availability in soil increases. This prompted farmers to plant more gram and wheat. It is likely that the area under the two crops may also go up,' he said. 
 
Ravi Patil, programme coordinator, Krushi Vikas Gramin Prashikshan Sanstha, said, 'The rain during September and October last year increased moisture content in soil. Considering the optimum moisture level in soil, farmers planted more gram and wheat.' Anmol Raut, who heads a farmer-producer company, said the area under gram and wheat had gone up for most farmers in his company. 'Area under gram has seen a spike compared to wheat, which means there will be an increase in gram harvest,' he said.
    
Source: The Times Of India



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