Samsara Newsletter

Week 51, 2019 (Dec 14 - Dec 20)

Policy & Economy News

'Indian economy strong, $5 trillion target achievable': PM Modi

India improves ranking in ease of doing business as exports & logistics facilitation get impetus

Business News - The India Boom Factor

Huge surge in frozen shrimp exports to China

US mulls doubling pear exports to India

Bangladesh to allow Indian Transhipment goods without Custom Duties & Transit Fees from Jan 2020

CII identifies 18 emerging economies & 53 products to boost export

Indian sugar industry poised to export 5 mn tonne, likely to set new record

Shipping News

Strong ocean imports & exports seen sustaining India's trade growth

India enters a new era of ship recycling

Logistics News

Railways aims at 45 pc of total freight movement in country

Tripura gets its first SEZ

Indian Port News

Govt focused on enhancing port connectivity: Minister

Policy & Economy News

'Indian economy strong, $5 trillion target achievable': PM Modi
Hindustan Times: New Delhi, Dec 20 Top
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the BJP-led government has given the country a solid foundation so that it can achieve its target to be US $5 trillion economy by 2024.

"The country has made itself so strong in the last five years that we can set such targets and achieve them too," he said at a function to mark 100 years of ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) in New Delhi on Friday.

Every group that can enable the economy is keeping the target of $5 trillion economy at the centre of its plans and talks are happening in several sectors, the PM said, adding that the credit for every achieved target goes to the people, and not to the government.

"Five-six years back, our economy was heading towards disaster. Our government has not only stabilised it, but also made efforts to bring discipline to it. We have paid attention to fulfilling the decades old demands of the industry," he said.

The Prime Minister also said that the government is moving forward by using technology to modernise and speed-up the economy.

"You climb up the 'Ease of Doing Business' rankings when you work hard day and night, when you bring about a change in the policies, starting from the ground," PM Modi added.

The BJP promised to make India a US $5 trillion economy by 2024 in its manifesto ahead of the national polls in April-May, though declining economic growth has caused some economists to wonder if the target wasn't too ambitious .The size of India's economy was estimated at $2.75 trillion at the end of March.

The country's economy expanded at its weakest pace in more than six years in the quarter ending September. The gross domestic product (GDP) was projected to grow at 4.7%, down from 5.0% in the previous three months and 7% for the corresponding period of 2018.

The central government has taken several steps, including cutting corporate tax in September, to boost investments and bolster economic growth.

India improves ranking in ease of doing business as exports & logistics facilitation get impetus
Exim News Service - New Delhi, Dec. 17 Top
India ranks 63rd among 190 countries in the global Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) rankings, improving by 14 ranks from 77 in 2019. India has improved its rank in 7 out of 10 indicators and has moved closer to international best practices. The 2020 edition of the report acknowledges India as one of the top 10 improvers, third time in a row, with an improvement of 67 ranks in 3 years. It is also the highest jump by any large country since 2011.

In order to promote exports, the Department of Commerce has undertaken various measures:

Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) has introduced a new Export Credit Insurance Scheme (ECIS) called 'NIRVIK' for exporters in which increased insurance cover for export credit has been extended by banks from existing average of 60 per cent to 90 per cent for both principal and interest.

Accounts with limits below Rs 80 crore (Rs.800 million), the premium rates will be moderated to 0.60 per annum and for those exceeding Rs 80 crore (Rs.800 million), it will be 0.72 per annum for the same enhanced cover. It is expected that the initiative will cost about Rs 1,700 crore (Rs.17 billion) per annum. It will provide comfort to banks, bring down the cost of credit due to capital relief, less provision requirement and liquidity due to quick settlement of claims and will ensure timely and adequate working capital and relief to MSMEs.

To enhance ease of doing business, deemed export drawback has been allowed on all industry rate of drawback schedule.

An online portal for filing applications under 'Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA)' scheme for Specified Agriculture Products has been launched.

Easing exporters' claims with ECGC through transparency

A database has been prepared by ECGC for all pending claims and online access on status of claims has been provided. This will be a critical tool for providing information access to exporters.

The online "Origin Management System" gives single access point for all exporters, for all Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) and for all agencies. India has 15 FTAs/PTAs and 7 lakh 'Certificates of Origin' are issued annually. The platform will be made live for FTAs as per the concurrence of the concerned partner countries. This process is electronic, paperless and transparent with real-time tracking of FTA utilisation at product level and country level. It will also lead to reduced transaction cost and time.

Scheme for Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP) formulated to replace existing Merchandise Exports from India (MEIS) scheme. This will be a WTO- compliant scheme for promotion of exports. Textiles and all other sectors which currently enjoy incentives upto 2 per cent over MEIS will transit into RoDTEP from January 1, 2020. RoDTEP will span all sectors and the revenue foregone will be about Rs 50,000 crore (Rs.500 billion).

Infusion of funds for export support

A capital of Rs 389 crore (Rs.3.8 billion) has been infused into Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) on June 21, 2019. This will provide extra support to exports to emerging and challenging markets like Africa, CIS, Latin America and Asian countries.

A grant-in-aid (corpus) of Rs 300 crore (Rs.3 billion) has been contributed to National Export Insurance Account (NEIA) trust on June 21, 2019, thereby, enhancing its risk taking capacity to support project exports in challenging markets.

Boost to gem and jewellery exporters by resolution of various issues like removal of the requirement of paying IGST on re-import of goods which were exported earlier for exhibition purpose/consignment basis. Allowing partial discharge of bonds executed by nominated agencies/banks for import of gold to be supplied to jewellery exporters, thereby enabling nominated agencies/banks to release bank guarantee of jewellery exporters who have fulfilled their export obligation has helped in release of blocked working capital.

National Logistics Policy, 2019

The National Logistics Policy is being prepared with the aimto bring down total logistics cost from 14 per cent to 9 per cent of country's GDP. The policy aims to boost business competitiveness, drive economic growth and make India a global logistics hub.

The Multi-Modal Transportation of Goods Bill, 2019 has been finalised for approval. This aims at facilitating the movement of goods for exports, imports and domestic trade. It will help to fix accountability and liabilities for violation of its provisions.

Skilling for logistics sector

34 Qualification Packs (QPs) for skill development of manpower engaged in Logistics Sector have been developed and finalised in collaboration with Logistics Skill Council. This is the first time that such qualification packs have been developed.

Implementation of Agriculture Export Policy

The Agriculture Export Policy has been approved with an outlay of Rs 206 crores (Rs.2 billion) for 2019-20. In order to establish linkage between FPOs and the exporters a portal has been created by Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). About 740 Farmers Producer Organisation (FPO) have been registered under Farmers Connect Portal, said a release.

Business News - The India Boom Factor

Huge surge in frozen shrimp exports to China
Exim News Service - New Delhi, Dec. 16 Top
China has imported frozen shrimp worth $ 404.94 million (69,571 tonnes) from India in the current year (April-September 2019) as compared to $ 131.03 million (21,823 tonnes) during the same period last year, registering a growth of about 209 per cent.

During 2018-19, China had bought frozen shrimp worth $ 392 million (66,929 tonnes) from India as against $ 89 million (13,107 tonnes) in 2017-18, said a release.

US mulls doubling pear exports to India
Exim News Service - Washington, Dec. 17 Top
Pear Bureau Northwest, that supports about 900 pear growing farmers of the US, plans to double pear exports to India to 220,000 boxes (of 20 kg each) in the next 2-3 seasons as it widens reach to tier-II and -III cities through tie-ups with almost all the large modern trade retail chains of the country, said a report.

On the supply side, it has tied up with 15 large importers to market and distribute the fruit across India. Pear Bureau will invest about $ 200,000 to $300,000 this season in training retailers on the nitty-gritty of handling the fruit while in transit and cold storage, besides spreading awareness through campaigns. Ranked the sixth-largest market for US pears, India imported 108,000 boxes worth $ 3 million last season, the report added.

Bangladesh to allow Indian Transhipment goods without Custom Duties & Transit Fees from Jan 2020
Daily Shipping times - New Delhi, December 20 Top
Bangladesh will allow transhipment of Indian goods via Chittagong and Mongla sea ports from January without charging Customs Duties and Transit fees.

The decision, considered a new phase in connectivity between the two countries, was agreed upon when Bangladesh Shipping Secretary Md. Abdus Samad met his Indian counterpart Gopal Krishna at the Shipping Secretary-level talks in Dhaka recently.

Earlier, the Standard Operating Procedures to allow transhipment of Indian goods to and fro from landlocked North-Eastern States was agreed upon during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Delhi in October.

The move will give further push to India's Act East policy by connecting North-Eastern States with SE Asia.

Bangladesh expects that such connectivity between the countries will open up greater economic opportunities, strengthen infrastructure and boost business, according to Dhaka-based officials.

"We are yet to decide the date of the first trial run, but it is likely to be in January next year. A container cargo is likely to operate either through Chittagong Port or Mongla Port to the Indian State of Tripura through the Agartala and Akhaura river routes," said Abdus Samad.

Customs fees are not applicable as it is a bilateral agreement between the two countries. But India will pay duties and taxes as per Bangladesh's tariff schedule for ports. It will also pay fees for using roads in line with the policy of the Bangladesh Road and Highways Division, officials said.

Seven routes have been suggested for the movement of goods and passenger vessels between

North-Eastern States and two ports. These include Chittagong Port or Mongla Port to Agartala via Akhaura; Chittagong or Mongla Port to Dawki via Tamabil; Chittagong or Mongla Port to Sutarkandi via Sheola; and Chittagong or Mongla to Bibekbazar via Simantapur.

Meanwhile, passengers travelling on cruise ships to India and Bangladesh will get on-arrival visas at the ports.

It may be recalled that operations of cruise ships from Narayanganj (Bangladesh) to Kolkata began on a trial basis in March this year.

CII identifies 18 emerging economies & 53 products to boost export
Daily Shipping Times - New Delhi, December 20 Top
CII has identified 18 developing economies that hold the promise of sustained growth over the coming few decades based on current GDP levels and population indicators. These are: Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, Thailand, South Africa, Malaysia, Philippines, Egypt, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Ghana, Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Cote D'Ivoire, Cambodia and Guinea.

The report titled 'India's Exports to Emerging Economies: Targeting Prospects and Chasing Opportunity' was released by Honorable Mr Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways, Government of India at the CII Exports Summit in New Delhi recently.

Given the current growth trends in these nations, their existing import demand, as well as India's current standing as a source of imports into each of these countries should be the focus for India's export promotion activities.

As India moves beyond RCEP negotiations, it is directing its focus on the mature advanced economies of US, Europe, Japan etc. while also remaining committed to bilateral trade negotiations with emerging economies (including the countries engaged with RCEP). The CII list of 18 countries thus comes at a crucial time.

CII's research also pinpoints to 53 products at the 4-digit HS code level which hold strong prospects for greater inroads into the identified emerging economies. These products were identified based on a multi-tier analysis including the top imports of the identified countries, India's current export competitiveness in each of the products (Revealed Comparative Advantage) and current global export volumes. Of this list, the products have been further sub-divided into three lists to indicate levels of export potential from India based on existing competitiveness and other factors.

The top list of 'Export prospects' include products like Iron and Steel, Chemicals, Motor Vehicles, Auto parts and components, Machinery; Electrical appliances besides Rice, medicaments for therapeutic uses, insecticides etc., certain textiles, specific metals and fabricated metals, etc. The report also provides comprehensive recommendations that point to ways in which India, through concerted efforts, could expand exports to these economies and in the identified set of products.

Commenting on the report, Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII said "The Government and industry are working collaboratively to devise avenues by which India can enhance its export capacity - this includes re-thinking of the configuration of free trade zones, continued sectoral reforms, greater attention to financial resources available to companies, infrastructural improvements as well as major changes in the country's overall trade policy.

The report identifies the top emerging economies India should target, as well as the potential commodities from India that can be exported to these nations - these will, I hope, contribute to the discussions shaping India's trade priorities in substantive ways."

Indian sugar industry poised to export 5 mn tonne, likely to set new record
Business Standard: New Delhi, Dec 17 Top
India, the world's biggest sugar producer, is poised to break its own export record this year thanks to a flurry of overseas sales in the past few months, prompted by attractive global prices, trade and industry officials said on Tuesday.

Sugar mills in India have done deals to export 2 million tonnes in the new season that began on Oct. 1, 2019, raising hopes that the country would sell at least 5 million tonnes on the world market in the 2019/20 season, nearly a third higher than the previous year.

"Looking at the current trend, I can tell you with a lot of confidence that we'll be able to export at least 5 million tonnes this year," said a New Delhi-based dealer from the Indian unit of a global trading firm.

At 5 million tonnes, Indian exports would surpass their previous peak of 4.96 million tonnes shipped in 2007/08 according to trade and industry data. This was spurred by a rally in international prices, a weak Indian rupee and a clutch of government subsidies which made exports lucrative.

"Compared to last year, exports got the momentum this year from the start of the season due to an improvement in sugar prices," said Rahil Shaikh, managing director of MEIR Commodities India.

A sharp increase in exports from India, also the world's biggest sugar consumer, could weigh on benchmark prices in New York and London and trim the market share of rivals Brazil, Thailand and Australia, the world's top sugar suppliers.

Higher sugar shipments from India could intensify a trade dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Brazil has already said India's subsidies for sugar exports were not in line with WTO rules and would hurt free competition in the global market. Brazil, Australia and Guatemala have questioned the subsidies at the WTO.

India, struggling with surplus sugar supplies, has approved a subsidy of 10,448 rupees ($145.58) a tonne for exports in the 2019/20 season - a move that encouraged mills to clinch overseas sales deals early this year.

Traders have contracted to export raw sugar at an average $300 a tonne and white sugar $330 a tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis, three dealers directly involved in the deals said. They did not wish to be identified in line with their organisations' policy.

In contrast to the 2 million tonnes of exports contracted so far this year, in the first three of the 2018/19 season Indian mills were only able to sell about 850,000 tonnes of sugar.

Shipping News

Strong ocean imports & exports seen sustaining India's trade growth
Exim News Service - New Delhi, Dec. 17 Top
Strong ocean imports and exports will sustain India's trade growth over the three-month period ending in January 2020, making it the only country out of the world's seven largest economies with a positive trade outlook, according to data from the DHL Global Trade Barometer released by DHL, the world's leading logistics company.

The DHL Global Trade Barometer, an early indicator of global trade developments calculated using Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, predicts mildly positive growth for Indian trade with the country's index rising five points to 54. The positive outlook is driven primarily by an uptake in ocean imports of basic and industrial raw materials and chemicals and products, coupled with a gradual revival in air exports of consumer fashion goods. In total, ocean trade grew by 10 points, maintaining India's positive outlook even as air trade forecasts experience relative weakness, said a release.

"India has the strongest trade forecast this quarter and the highest index value of all countries in the latest Global Trade Barometer survey, followed closely by the United Kingdom and Japan," said Mr Niki Frank, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding India. "This highlights the underlying potential of India's economy, which will benefit from the government's plan to invest $ 1.39 trillion ( 1.26 trillion) in infrastructure projects. The country's commitment to establishing itself as a strategic maritime hub with initiatives and investments in coastal infrastructure appear to be supporting the index's positive ocean trade outlook and will likely also contribute positively to longer-term trade growth."

Steady but mild decline negatively affects all countries, except India

The Barometer's results also suggest that world trade is expected to continue at moderate pace but further contract for the next three months, driven by minor decreases in both air and containerised ocean trade. Against previous quarters this year, the downward trend in trade growth remains mostly stable, neither indicating an acceleration of the decline nor a bottoming out of contractionary movement. All seven nations monitored by the Barometer received indexes below 50 points except for India, where the Barometer forecasts moderate growth of five points to 54 points for India. While Japan and the UK had been the only countries with positive trade outlooks in the previous update in September, the two countries record the highest losses in this period.

"According to the DHL Global Trade Barometer, the year will probably end with moderate world trade. However, we've to bear in mind where we come from: The rapid growth world trade has undergone in recent years was like climbing the Mount Everest. Now, we are on the descent, but we are still breathing altitude air", Mr Tim Scharwath, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding, Freight, says. "A countless number of stable trade relations continue to flourish worldwide, despite smouldering trade conflicts and geopolitical uncertainties."

Launched in January 2018, the DHL Global Trade Barometer is an innovative and unique early indicator for the current state and future development of global trade. It is based on large amounts of logistics data that are evaluated with the help of Artificial Intelligence. The indicator is published four times a year and the next release date is scheduled for end of March 2020, the release added.

India enters a new era of ship recycling
Exim News Service - New Delhi, Dec. 18 Top
The Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 has become an Act after it received the assent of President of India recently. The government decided to bring this Act to provide for the regulation of recycling of ships by setting certain international standards and laying down the statutory mechanism for enforcement of such standards. The government has also decided to accede to the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009. Accordingly, India has acceded to Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 on November 28, 2019.

The Recycling of Ships Act, 2019 restricts and prohibits the use or installation of hazardous materials, which applies irrespective of whether a ship is meant for recycling or not. For new ships, such restriction or prohibition on use of hazardous materials will be immediate, that is, from the date the legislation comes into force, while existing ships shall have a period of five years for compliance. Restriction or prohibition on use of hazardous materials would not be applied to warships and non-commercial ships operated by the government. Ships shall be surveyed and certified on the inventory of hazardous materials used in ships.

Under this Act, ship recycling facilities are required to be authorised and ships shall be recycled only in such authorised ship recycling facilities. This Act also provides that ships shall be recycled in accordance with a ship-specific recycling plan. Ships to be recycled in India shall be required to obtain a Ready for Recycling Certificate in accordance with the HKC.

The Act imposes a statutory duty on ship recyclers to ensure safe and environmentally sound removal and management of hazardous wastes from ships. Appropriate penal provisions have been introduced in the Act to deter any violation of statutory provisions.

Accession to Hong Kong Convention by India and enactment of Recycling of Ships Act, 2019 will raise the profile of the country's ship recycling industry as being environment-friendly and safety conscious and would go a long way in consolidating India's position as the market leader, said a release.

Logistics News

Railways aims at 45 pc of total freight movement in country
Exim News Service: New Delhi, Dec. 19 Top
Focusing on wagon development for new commodities

The Ministry of Railways organised the third edition of the Conference on Wagon Development for New Commodities here, the objective of which was to evolve innovative solutions for transportation challenges in the automobile, steel, cement, foodgrain and other special commodities segments and to chart out a roadmap to exploit the market potential in the freight segment of the Indian Railways. The attempt is to find workable solutions to transportation challenges pertaining to rail by involving major stakeholders in freight operations, emphasised a release.

Inaugurating the conference, Member (Rolling Stock), Railway Board, Mr Rajesh Agrawal, said the aim is that 45 per cent of total freight movement in the country should be by rail. He said that once the Dedicated Freight Corridors become a reality, there would be substantial increase in the speed of freight movement by rail. He complimented RDSO for fast implementation of new designs of freight wagons. Other members of Railway Board, senior officials from Railways, RDSO, CONCOR and industry representatives were present.

Based on the discussion with various stakeholders in the last conference, five designs were identified for wagon development. With a specific timeline and focused approach, the designing time for the wagons has reduced from one and a half year to six months. Follow up to the earlier conferences also facilitated meaningful interaction between Indian Railways and stakeholders, the release added.

Tripura gets its first SEZ
Exim News Service: New Delhi, Dec. 19 Top
Agro-based SEZ to come up in Sabroom

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has notified the setting up of the first-ever Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Tripura.

The SEZ is being set up at Paschim Jalefa, Sabroom, South Tripura District, which is 130 km away from Agartala. It will be a sector-specific economic zone for agro-based food processing.

The estimated investment in the project will be around Rs 1,550 crore (Rs.15.5 billion), with the developer being Tripura Industrial Development Corporation (TIDC) Ltd. Rubber-based industries, textile and apparel industries, bamboo and agri-food processing industries will be a part of the SEZ.

Coming up of the SEZ in Sabroom will open up new avenues to attract private investment considering the proximity of Bangladesh's Chittagong Port and construction of the bridge across Feni River in South Tripura which is underway.

After it is set up, 100 per cent income tax exemption will be provided on export income for SEZ units under Section 10AA of the Income Tax Act for the first 5 years. Also, 50 per cent exemption will be provided for the next 5 years and 50 per cent of the ploughed back export profit for another 5 years, said a release.

Indian Port News

Govt focused on enhancing port connectivity: Minister
Exim News Service - New Delhi, Dec. 15 Top
The government of India has undertaken 55 rail projects worth Rs 45,883.2 crore (Rs.458.8 billion) and 15 projects worth Rs 2,899 crore (Rs.28.9 billion) for enhancing port connectivity at various Major and non-major ports, Parliament was informed.

Mr Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge), said that of the 55 rail projects, 15 projects worth Rs 1,048.20 crore (Rs.10.4 billion) have been completed and 40 projects with a cost of Rs 44,785 crore (Rs.447.8 billion)are under implementation. Of the 15 road projects, 10 projects worth Rs 2,592 crore (Rs.25.9 billion) have been completed and 5 projects, amounting to Rs 307 crore (Rs.3.07 billion), are under implementation.

He added that the expenditure for 38 rail connectivity projects being undertaken by the Ministry of Railways till March 2019 is approximately Rs 16,403 crore (Rs.164 billion). And for 15 road and 17 rail connectivity projects undertaken by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways/Major Ports, the expenditure in the last three FYs has been approximately Rs 3,204.82 crore (Rs.32 billion), said a communique.