National News

In 2018-19, for the first time in 3 years India becomes net importer of steel

NEW DELHI: Having lost the market from its traditional buyers as they required higher quality steel domestically, India became a net importer of steel in 2018-19 for the first time in three years. While finished steel exports dipped to 6.36 mn tonnes, a fall of 34% imports rose 4.7% to 7.84 million tonnes according to preliminary Government data.Blocked out from markets in USA and Europe on account of high tariffs and other protectionist measures, steelmakers from China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia ate into the country’s markets in the Middle East and Africa, according to an Indian Government official with knowledge on the matter. They also diverted supply to India the source said.Biggest imports were those gor value-added steel, primarily for the auto sector and high-end electrical steel were the biggest source of imports, the source said. There was no data on import of stainless steel but industry participants have noted overseas supply has climbed.

FY19 saw rise by 31 per cent in export of oilmeals

NEW DELHI:According to industry data, India’s export of oilmeals rose by 31 per cent to Rs 6,222 crore during the last fiscal year on higher volumes as well as price realisation.Data from the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) showed that India had exported oilmeals worth Rs 4,762 crore during the 2017-18 fiscal. In terms of volume, exports increased 6 per cent to 3.2 million tonnes in the 2018-19 fiscal year from 0.02 million tonnes in the previous year.Rapeseed meal shipments rose sharply to 10,51,869 tonnes from 6,63,988 tonnes. South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand were major importers of rapeseed meal. Soyabean meal exports also rose to 13,37,215 tonnes during the last fiscal from 11,87,818 tonnes in the previous year.

SEA data shows growth in oilmeal exports in 2018-19

Mumbai:As per data from the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA), oilmeal exports rose by 31 per cent to a value of Rs 6,222 crore during 2018-19 as compared to Rs 4,762 crore during 2017-18, on higher volumes as well as price realisation.In terms of volume, exports increased 6 per cent to 3.2 million tonnes in 2018-19 from 3.02 million tonnes in the previous fiscal, as per the latest figures from the SEA. Rapeseed meal shipments rose sharply to 10,51,869 tonnes from 6,63,988 tonnes. South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand were the major importers of Indian rapeseed meal.The export of soyabean meal also rose to 13,37,215 tonnes during 2018-19 from 11,87,818 tonnes in 2017-18. Exports of rice bran meal, however, dropped to 4,40,927 tonnes from 594,129 tonnes. According to reports, the export of castor seed meal was also down to 3,67,084 tonnes from 5,72,762 tonnes.According to SEA data, the major importers of Indian oilmeals were Vietnam (6,15,403 tonnes), South Korea (7,38,795 tonnes), Thailand (3,02,619 tonnes), Taiwan (1,19,794 tonnes) and Iran (5,08,050 tonnes).

Industry data shows surge in sugar exports to 17.44 lakh tonnes this year so far/h4>

PUNE:Industry data showed that India’s sugar exports rose to 17.44 lakh tonnes so far in the current marketing year ending September, as compared to about 5 lakh tonnes shipped in the entire 2017-18.In a statement, the All India Sugar Trade Association (AISTA) said that of the 17.44 lakh tonnes exported between October 1 and April 6, raw sugar accounted for nearly 8 lakh tonnes. Another 4.3 lakh tonnes are in the export pipeline, it mentioned.AISTA CEO R P Bhagria said, “Total sugar export contract so far is around 27 lakh tonnes, out of which 21.7 lakh tonnes have been dispatched from mills.”India had exported around 5 lakh tonnes of sugar in the last marketing year amid lower prices in the global markets, which made Indian shipments uncompetitive.AISTA stated that Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Somalia, and Iran were the major export destinations.In order to liquidate surplus stock, the Centre has asked mills to export 50 lakh tonnes of sugar in 2018-19 marketing year (October-September). Various incentives to boost sugar exports are being provided by the Government.

Sugar mills to export 2.7 million tonnes in current season

NEW DELHI:A leading trade body recently said that Indian sugar mills have contracted to export 2.7 million tonnes of sugar since the current season began on Oct. 1. Praful Vithalani, President of the All India Sugar Trade Association (AISTA), said that Mills had already shipped out 1.7 million tonnes of the sweetener.Mr. Vithalani said that Indian mills had sold nearly an equal quantity of raw and refined, or white, sugar, for which the top destinations were Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Iran and Sudan. Late last year India, the world’s biggest sugar consumer, approved incentives to encourage cash-strapped mills to export at least 5 million tonnes of sugar in the 2018-19 season to help prop up prices by trimming bulging stocks.

FY 2019: 5.38 % higher Container traffic handled by VOC Port

TUTICORIN:During 2018-19, a drop in cargo traffic was seen at VO Chidambaram Port (VOC) in Thoothukudi. One of the main reasons for this was the closure of the Sterlite copper smelter plant, as the company contributed to an annual volume of around 1.5 million tonnes (mt). VOC port, a major port in Southern Tamil Nadu, handled a cargo throughput of 34.34 mt in 2018-19 against 36.53 mt in 2017-18, a nearly 7 per cent drop. The Shipping Ministry’s target for 2018-19 was 38 mt.Sources say that fertiliser and container cargo saw positive growth, but petroleum, oil and lubricants, fertiliser raw material (rock phosphate and sulphur), thermal coals and ‘other’ cargo (in which copper products are included) saw a decline in 2018-19 against the previous year. VOC Port handled nearly 2 mt of wheat in 2017-18; but in 2018-19, the Government had stopped wheat import.
Container throughput rises 5.38%
There was a rise in container traffic by 5.38 per cent to 7.39 lakh TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units). The volume is likely to increase after the inauguration of the first mainline vessel to the Dakshin Bharat Gateway Container Terminal in December.Wan Hai Lines’ China-India Express 2 service connects VOC Port with two Malaysian Ports — Penang and Port Klang — and Chinese Ports — Hong Kong, Qingdao, hanghai, Ningbo and Shekou. The service calls VOC Port every Tuesday and is operated with six Panamax class container vessels with a carrying capacity of 4,333 TEUs. The target this year is to handle around 40 mt, which the port is likely to achieve by way of organic growth and with increased volume of around 1 mt of coal and limestone for the Tamil Nadu Paper Ltd — this cargo was diverted from the Karaikal Port in Puducherry. As per sources, the port is also likely to handle around 1 mt of foodgrain this year.The Maldives imports huge volume from the VOC Port. In 2016-17, around 1.80 mt of construction material was exported out of the VOC Port to Maldives. However, this volume dropped sharply to 0.58 mt in 2017-18 and further to 0.27 mt in 2018-19. After a lull of nearly two years, there is likely to be an uptake in the handling of construction materials for Maldives. As sources said, “It is a seasonal cargo, and we expect that, this year, construction materials will be in good demand in Maldives.”

Analysts predict surge in exports in 2018-19

NEW DELHI:According to analysts, India’s exports are expected to touch a new high of over $330 billion in value in 2018-19. The analysts added that official figures were likely to be released soon, and should see a significant surge when compared to the nearly $303 billion achieved in the previous fiscal. They pointed out that the rise in petroleum and commodity prices and the recent depreciation of the rupee were supporting exports. Reports said that during April-February of the just-concluded fiscal, exports were nearly 9 per cent higher and had since then seen a year-end rush of shipments.

Exports register best-ever performance in 2018-19

NEW DELHI:During the 2018-19 fiscal (April-March), the cumulative value of exports was $ 331.02 billion (Rs 23,14,429.08 crore) as against $ 303.53 billion (Rs 19,56,514.53 crore) achieved in 2017-18, registering a positive growth of 9.06 per cent in dollar terms (18.29 per cent in rupee terms).March 2019 exports were valued at $ 32.55 billion, compared to $ 29.32 billion in March 2018, showing a positive growth of 11.02 per cent. Exports in rupee terms were Rs 2,26,138.76 crore in March 2019, as against Rs 190,619.25 crore in March 2018, showing a positive growth of 18.63 per cent.The major commodity groups of export showing positive growth in March over the corresponding month of the previous year were organic and inorganic chemicals (16.98 per cent), engineering goods (16.27 per cent), RMG of all textiles (15.13 per cent), drugs and pharmaceuticals (13.59 per cent), and petroleum products (6.55 per cent).Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in March 2019 were $ 25.59 billion, compared to $ 22.57 billion in March 2018, exhibiting a positive growth of 13.41 per cent. Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in April-March 2018-19 were $ 243.02 billion, as compared to $ 224.52 billion for the corresponding period in 2017-18, an increase of 8.24 per cent.
Imports
March 2019 imports were valued at $ 43.44 billion (Rs 3,01,814.05 crore), which was 1.44 per cent higher in dollar terms and 8.39 per cent higher in rupee terms over imports of $ 42.82 billion (Rs 2,78,441.24 crore) in March 2018.Cumulative value of imports for the period April-March 2018-19 was $ 507.44 billion (Rs 35,48,004.48 crore), as against $ 465.58 billion (Rs 30,01,033.43 crore) during the period April-March 2017-18, showing a positive growth of 8.99 per cent in dollar terms (18.23 per cent in rupee terms).Coke, coal and briquettes, etc. (-14.85 per cent), organic and inorganic chemicals (-6.35 per cent), machinery, electrical and non-electrical (-5.74 per cent), electronic goods (-5.69 per cent), and pearls, precious and semi-precious stones (-1.03 per cent) were the major commodity groups of import showing negative growth in March 2019 over the corresponding month of the previous year.
Crude oil and non-oil imports
In March 2019 oil imports were $11.75 billion (Rs 81,609.46 crore), which was 5.55 per cent higher in dollar terms (12.78 per cent higher in rupee terms), compared to $ 11.13 billion (Rs 72,359.44 crore) in March 2018. Oil imports in April-March 2018-19 were $140.47 billion (Rs 9,83,147.76 crore) which was 29.27 per cent higher in dollar terms (40.39 per cent higher in rupee terms) compared to $108.66 billion (Rs 7,00,320.81crore) over the same period the previous year.Non-oil imports in March 2019 were estimated at $ 31.69 billion (Rs 2,20,204.59 crore) which was at par in dollar terms (6.85 per cent higher in rupee terms) compared to $ 31.69 billion (Rs 2,06,081.80 crore) in March 2018.Non-oil imports in April-March 2018-19 were $ 366.97 billion (Rs 25,64,856.72 crore) which was 2.82 per cent higher in dollar terms (11.48 per cent higher in rupee terms), compared to $ 356.92 billion (Rs 23,00,712.62 crore) in April-March 2017-18.Non-oil and non-gold imports were $ 28.42 billion in March 2019, recording a negative growth of 2.67 per cent as compared to non-oil and non-gold imports in March 2018. Non-oil and non-gold imports were $ 334.15 billion in April-March 2018-19, recording a positive growth of 3.37 per cent, as compared to non-oil and non-gold imports in April-March 2017-18, an official release informed.

DIPAM commences the process of Kamarajar Port’s strategic disinvestment

CHENNAI:The process of the strategic disinvestment of Kamarajar Port Ltd (KPL) has been commenced by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) of the Union Finance Ministry. Bids have been invited in this regard to appoint a legal advisor. According to reports, this would be one of the biggest strategic disinvestment deals.On February 28, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister, had given an ‘in principle’ approval for the strategic disinvestment of 100 per cent equity shares of the Government of India in KPL to Chennai Port Trust in a single stage process by following ‘Arm’s length’ principles.Currently, the Government and Chennai Port Trust hold 67 per cent and 33 per cent of shares respectively, in KPL. As per the request for the proposal, DIPAM intends to appoint a transaction advisor for the strategic disinvestment of KPL.Bids from reputed domestic law firms with a minimum experience of five years and expertise in mergers and acquisitions/takeovers/strategic disinvestment are invited for acting as the legal advisor and assisting the Government in the process.The document states that proposals are to be submitted in sealed envelopes before 3 pm on April 29 and “the Government would reserve the sole right to accept or reject any or all proposals thus received without assigning any reasons thereof”.

CAI: India’s cotton exports projected to fall by 31% in 2018-19

NEW DELHI:Cotton exports for the season 2018-19 have been estimated at 47 lakh bales by the Cotton Association of India (CAI). These are lower by 22 lakh bales compared to the export of 69 lakh bales estimated during last year.The yearly balance sheet for the cotton season 2018-19 has also been projected by the CAI. In this, the total cotton supply till end of the cotton season (i.e. till September 2019) has been estimated at 376 lakh bakes of 170 kg each. These consist of the Opening Stock of 28 lakh bales at the beginning of the cotton season, cotton crop for the season estimated at 321 lakh bales, and imports estimated by the CAI at 27 lakh bales, which are higher by 12 lakh bales compared to the previous year’s imports estimated at 15 lakh bales.

FIEO: Three major issues to be faced by exporters are protectionism, commodity prices, inadequate liquidity

NEW DELHI: According to Exporters’ body FIEO, the three major challenges to be faced by exporters in the coming months will be rising protectionism, fluctuation in commodity prices, and inadequate availability of liquidity.According to FIEO (Federation of Indian Export Organisations), the WTO has already cautioned that global trade growth is expected to be lower in 2019 than it was last year.FIEO Director General Ajay Sahai recently said, “Protectionism will continue to rise and it will impact global demand for goods.” Mr. Sahai said that the other two challenges included a fluctuation in commodity prices, and an inadequate availability of credit, as banks are not coming forward to lend exporters. “These challenges would impact India’s exports, so we need to gear up for this,” he said, adding, “Timely support by the Government would help deal with these issues.” In order to make the process easier, Mr. Sahai suggested that banks follow an online procedure for credit lending. In its preliminary estimates, the WTO had predicted a 3.7 per cent expansion of global trade for this year, but has revised that down to 2.6 per cent. Mr Sahai added that that India’s merchandise exports will touch USD 330 billion in 2018-19, as per the current growth rate.During the April-February period of 2018-19, exports grew 8.85 per cent to USD 298.47 billion, while imports rose by 9.75 per cent to USD 464 billion. India’s exports have been hovering at around USD 300 billion since 2011-12. Overseas shipments grew by about 10 per cent during 2017-18 to USD 303 billion, and in 2013-14, these aggregated at about USD 315 billion. The promotion of exports helps a Country create jobs, boost manufacturing, and earn more foreign exchange.

MEA: India, ASEAN decide to strengthen ties in maritime sector, boost connectivity

NEW DELHI:The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that, at the 21st ASEAN-India Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) held here on April 11-12, India and ASEAN resolved to strengthen ties by deepening cooperation in the maritime sector and boosting connectivity. Vijay Thakur Singh, SOM Leader and Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, and Busaya Mathelin, SOM Leader and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand, co-chaired the meeting. The MEA said that the SOM leaders also exchanged views on regional and international issues of interest to ASEAN and India. They agreed to deepen maritime cooperation as decided at the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit 2018. They proposed to undertake a variety of measures in this regard, including enhanced cooperation in the sub-sector of Blue Economy. At the meeting, a decision was made to give an impetus to ASEAN-India connectivity in all its forms.

India manages to reduce trade deficit with China in 2019 by $10 billion

NEW DELHI:Thanks to efforts by New Delhi to get greater market access to China’s markets and take advantage of the current Washington-Beijing trade war, India has managed to bring down its trade deficit with China by $10 billion to $53 billion in 2018-19 year on year.India’s exports to China rose to $17 billion during the year from $13 billion during 2017-18, while imports declined to $70 billion from $76 billion, according to sources. India is the seventh largest export destination of China, while China is the fourth largest export destination of India. However, China is the top import source for India, while the latter is the 25th largest import source for China.

India’s trade deficit with China reduced through robust textile exports

NEW DELHI:India has been able to reduce its trade deficit with China through robust export of cotton textiles to China. Shipments to major consuming Countries were boosted by the recent Government move to reimburse all State and Central levies on textile exports. Compared to $920 million in the previous year period, cotton textile exports to China increased 69 per cent between April 2018 and February 2019 to $1.55 billion.Exports could increase further if the Centre addressed the tariff disadvantage of 3.5-10 per cent borne by the Indian industry vis-a-vis textile exporters in Vietnam, Pakistan and Indonesia, said KV Srinivasan, Chairman, Cotton Textile Export Promotion Council. Higher exports of cotton textiles, including fabrics and made-ups, will not only help reduce the trade imbalance, but also attract investments from the labour-intensive industries shifting out of China, Mr. Srinivasan added.With imports of $65 billion and exports of $15 billion in the period April 2018 to February 2019, China is an important trading partner for India. This marked an all-time high in exports and a sharp decline in imports from China. The trade balance between the two countries in FY18 was $63 billion in favour of China; it has now shrunk to $50.13 billion.

Apr-Feb 2018-19 sees 2 per cent fall in agri, processed food products exports

NEW DELHI: Data from APEDA reveals that India’s exports of agricultural and processed food products have dipped by 2.27 per cent to USD 16.27 billion during the April-February period of 2018-19, on account of contraction in shipments of wheat and non-basmati rice. Exports of these items stood at USD 16.65 billion during the corresponding period of 2017-18.During the 11-month period of 2018-19, wheat and non-basmati rice exports dipped by 48.79 per cent and 19.33 per cent, respectively. Fresh fruits and vegetables, processed fruits and juices, ground nuts, cereal preparations, and alcoholic beverages were other products that recorded negative growth. Floriculture, fruits and vegetables seeds, pulses, processed vegetables, processed meat, dairy products, guar gum, and basmati rice recorded positive growth. During the period under review, exports of pulses grew 28.46 per cent to USD 235 million.

Iron ore and steel exports drop in FY19

NEW DELHI:FY19 saw a drop in India’s iron ore exports by 57 per cent and steel exports by 34 per cent. The iron ore export volumes declined significantly (57 per cent) from 15.65 million tonnes in FY18 to 6.81 million tonnes in FY19.The past three years have seen a decline in Iron ore exports; FY19 has seen a three-year low. As per the data from the Indian Commodity Exchange (ICEX), volumes closer to FY19 were witnessed in FY16 when the exports stood at 6.04 million tonnes.The demand for Indian iron ore in the international market, especially in China, remained fragile for a large part of FY19, according to the spokesperson of ICEX. Increased preference for high grade iron ore by Chinese steel mills was seen due to strict environmental regulations in China. The demand for low-grade iron ore from India remained subdued. Iron ore from countries like Australia and Brazil also was more competitive compared to Indian prices during the most part of the year.

South Central Railway achieves best-ever annual freight loading in FY 19

KOLKATA:The best-ever annual freight loading performance of the South Central Railway (SCR) was seen in 2018-19. Last year the zone reached the mark of 122.51 million tonnes freight loading.N Madhusudana Rao, Principal Chief Operations Manager opines that the feat is the result of a right mix of operational, technical and business strategies. This was also aided by macro-economic factors such as increase in coal imports.
Contracts signed
Mr. Rao said, “To augment coal freight, the SCR signed two ‘Merry Go Round’ pacts with Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) at a discounted rate.’ Coal contributed 67.6 million tonnes to the total freight. Imported coal from the Kakinada and Krishnapatnam Ports also helped. SCCL is major transporter of coal to various destinations. At 28 million tonnes, cement contributed the second highest share in total freight. This was due to the long- term tariff contracts signed with eight cement manufacturers. Mr Rao said, “These contracts assure steady business and freight tariff.”

Experts list opportunities for India in the Evolving Global Trade Regime

KOLKATA:Despite the ongoing trade wars, the global trading system still holds, said Dr Arvind Panagariya, Former Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog. . He was speaking at the session on Future of World Trade at the CII Annual Session 2019 with the theme of India 50, [email protected] and Beyond. Looking at the larger perspective he also said that India has to focus on increasing its share in global merchandise trade from its current levels.India must continue the liberalization of its top tariff rates, which had stalled in the past ten years, and not revert back to import substitution, Dr Panagariya stressed. India must conclude its ongoing FTA negotiations with EU (the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP), he added. RCEP gives India an opportunity to undertake economic reforms and slot into global value chains, and can help in increasing India’s exports to China.Tariffs are being increasingly used for purposes other than trade policy, and that the WTO should rise to such challenges, said Dr Harsha Vardhana Singh, former Deputy Director General, World Trade Organization (WTO). Dr. Singh added that there was a trend gravitating towards plurilateral agreements instead of relying on the consensus-based approach involving the entire WTO membership, at the WTO, among many member countries.India should be a part of the multilateral agreements and explore flexibilities within the same. He also said that trade policy must look at a value chain approach and focus on specific initiatives to facilitate trade.Trade policy is increasingly being used as a geostrategic tool, observed Dr Rajeev Kher, Distinguished Fellow, Research and Information System for Developing Countries. In this current environment, it is not possible for the WTO to function properly. Dr. Kher touched upon India’s position in trade negotiations, saying that it should be open to engaging in plurilateral negotiations in the WTO. He added that India should focus on joining new coalitions and develop a stance that serves its own interests. Dr Naushad Forbes, Past President, CII and Co Chairman Forbes Marshall Pvt Ltd said in his opening remarks that the global trading system was going through a lot of uncertainty due to the trade wars, BREXIT and problems at the WTO. Dr. Forbes added that changes in technology are also affecting international trade.

China News

Bouncig back from a slump Chinese exports rise in March

SHANGHAI:Despite President Donald Trump’s tariff hikes, Chinese exports bounced back with a sharp increae in sales to the United States. A spokesman for the Customs confirmed that From a year ago, exports increased by 14.2% to $198.7 billion bouncing back from February’s 20.8% contraction. On the other hand imports slipped by 7.6% to $166 billion, further worsening the 5.2% slip of last month.Mr. Li Kuiwen, the spokesperson said that in terms of Chinese currency exports to the United States rose 10.6%. He also said that imports of American goods plunged 21%, again in terms of the yuan. This has built up pressure on Chinese leaders to make peace with Washington in the tariff war especially about Beijing’s technology ambitions.“Exports have yet to fully recover from a sharp slowdown late last year,” said Julians Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report. After nine rounds of negotiations talks with Washington were rogressing conifmred Chinese Government spokespeople. Last week’s meeting in Washington was about technology transfer, intellectual property rights, agriculture and enforcement. It is predicted that Chinese exports this year will be lacklustre whichever way the negotiations go.Amid callegations of technology theft or pressures by Chinese companies, Trump hiked tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods and China retaliated by hiking their tariffs. These fights have caused disruption in trade of goods ranging from soybeans to medical equipment. Financial markets are worked up about the dispute and the International Monetary Fund and other forecasters hav lowered their outlook for global economic growth.

Chinese economy surpasses expectations in Q1 2019

BEIJING:Official data confirmes that China’s economy has superceded expectations in Q1 of 2019 with a growth of 6.4% thus defying expectations of a further slowdown, as industrial production increased sharply and consumer demand showed signs of recovery, reports said.

To help domestic producers, cap on 2019 coal imports to China

SHANGHAI:Coal imports to China will be capped to 2018 levels by the government to support domestic producers confirmed four sources with direct knowledge of the matter to Reuters on Tuesday. In 2018 China, the world’s biggest coal consumer imported 281.23 million tonnes of coal including thermal coal, coking coal and anthracite. At the same time there has been a rise in domestic output by an extra 100 million tonnes this year, said an official.Provincial-level customs officials asked at least three of the cources to limit their imports in 2019 to upto 2018 levels. China’s State Council madethe decision as confirmed by an official with a government-affiliated body who was familiar with the import policy, a fourth source. Australian shipments were laready hit sharply because of lengthy checks at customs.“Mining companies and provincial governments voiced their opposition against more imports,” said the official, on condition of anonimity. Another Purchase Manager at a large steel mill in Jiangsu said, “I was summoned to a meeting organized by customs last month and warned to ‘control the purchase pace of imported coal’.” Customs was to break the 2019 annual quota into monthly volumes he said. Another Purchase Manager at yet another steel mill in Shandong province was also asked to limit imports this year.When asked to comment on the same, the General Administration of Customs of China had no response, neither did the State Council. But price increases caused by lengthy Customs delays on imports as well as Chinese safety checks after mining accidents are unlikely to be curbed by recent price increases.The most-active coal contract on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange closed at 617.2 yuan ($91.99) a tonne on Tuesday, a five-month high. Coal with a heat content of 5,500 kilocalories on Tuesday had spot prices of 629 yuan a tonne, far more than the 570 yuan a tonne recommended by the state planner. “The increase in domestic supplies is not able to cool prices,” the official said.Last December, China barely allowed any coal imports delaying customs clearances so as to keep imports at 2017 levels. Yet, total imports were well over 2017 levels of 270.9 million tonnes.Coal prices riding in the domestic market have put profit margins under pressure at Chinese coal-fired utilities, industry executives said at the Coaltrans conference in Shanghai on Tuesday. “Imported coal could be a supplement to domestic coal supply and help to control coal prices,” said Guo Xinyi, Director of the Fuel Department at China Huaneng Group, stressing that it is not easy to replace 200 million tonnes of annual coal imports.

Chongqing in China & India connected by land-sea freight route

BEIJING:A new land-sea freight route connecting southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality with India was launched recently. A freight train with 25 containers on board departed from Chongqing stopping at Qinzhou Port in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Freight like auto parts worth over 8 million yuan (about 1.2 mn USD) were then transported by sea to India, a journey of 20 days.Part of the new International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, this route is a trade and logistics passage jointly built by Western Chinese provincial regiones and ASEAN countries under the framework of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity. The corridor uses Chongqing as the transport hub, ports in Guangxi’s Beibu Gulf to reach ports in ASEAN countries and links Europe bound freight trains from China to many Western Chinese cities and vice versa before heading for Central Asia, South Asia and Europe. Freight trains has plied 805 times in the corridor by end-2018. The corridor links 155 ports in 71 countries and regions worldwide.

China’s Export Container Shipping index for China dips in March

BEIJING:Shrinking last month for poor demand was China’s container transport for export purposes confirmed the Shanghai Shipping Exchange. IN March, the average China Containerized Freight Index (CCFI) fell to 830.81 down 6.3 percent in February, the exchange said. For Jan through Mar 2019, the index averaged 853.28. Sub-indices for many routes too nosedived in March. Largest dip was on the Mediterranean route where the sub-index dipped 9.4 percent from February, followed by South America route by 9 percent. Tracking 12 shipping routes across the globe, the CCFI tracks spot and contractual freight rates from Chinese container ports based on data from 20 international carriers. In 1st January 1998 the index was set at 1,000.

China’s exports in March at 5-month high but faster fall in imports

BEIJING:In March imports to China reduced for the fourth consecutive month at a sharper pace whereas exports bounced back sending mixed pictures of the economy as trade talks with the United States conclude. Investors are hoping for signs of economic recovery in China to keep at bay anxiety about slowing global growth, after for the third time the IMF this week downgraded its 2019 world outlook.Export gains may be due to more seasonal factors say veteran China watchers. A sudden turnaround in lacklustre global demand seems unlikely. Shipments were expected to jump after long holidays in February.Customs data showed that exports in March rose 14.2 percent as compared to last year, the biggest in five months. After the slump of 20.8% in February, economists polled by Reuters had expected a 7.3 percent gain. Imports dipped 7.6 percent from last year much worse than the expected 1.3% and much more from February’s 5.2 percent drop.

Currency manipulation next target in US-China trade pact

China could get penalised if it manipulates its currency to increase exports WASHINGTON: One of the clauses in the prospective US-China trade deal includes more transparency and greater disclosure of economic actions by China that American officials opine will deter Beijing from currency manipulation, according to current and former officials familiar with the negotiations. In fact, it could include penalties on China if it does so to increase exports which is in violation of international guidelines, they say. “The fundamental issue on currency across the board is we want to make sure people meet their obligations, that they don’t devalue their currency for competitive purposes,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview. “That’s the objective.”The trade negotiations are still underway and no deal will be struck until both sides agree on each of the clauses. Even so, an enforceable currency measure “would be significant and would represent a further step forward into bringing discipline to the currency-manipulation issue,” said Fred Bergsten, a former top Treasury Department official and co-founder of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.Measures for greater economic disclosure are essentially to spotlight monetary policies that fit the pattern of currency manipulation. Beijing with the largest forex reserves of USD 3 trn doesn’t disclose its composition neither its purchases in currency markets, making it difficult to assess whether Beijing is manipulating the yuan.Mr. Yi Gang, China’s central bank Governor said at a news conference last month that more transparency in the central bank’s forex operations would be part of the deal. The currency provisions and enforcement system have been worked and reworked upon as a part of the sprawling U.S.-China trade agreement, a work-in-progress that is meant to end the dispute, U.S. officials say. Mr. Robert Lighthizer spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative declined to comment and treasury officials refused to disclose any more information about the currency enforcement rules, neither did a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington.A senior official from the Treasury said that the US-China agreement on currency is similar to the revised North American Free Trade Agreement that the Trump administration signed last year with Canada and Mexico. The forex deal also has “certain aspects that go beyond” the new, unratified Nafta deal, known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.In recent years economists and politicians are wary about countries that manipulate their currencies to favor exports over imports, effectively eliminating the gains that companies operating in one currency get from lower tariffs negotiated in trade agreements Such currency manipulation is not permitted under the guidelines of international organizations — including the G20 global economies. But there is no mechanism to hold countries to account.Some of the major economies and their central banks find it difficult to bind themselves when it comes to monetary tools, seeing it as a key factor of economic sovereignty. President Trump said that after assuming office he would formally declare China a currency manipulator, but his administration backed down on that promise. Administration officials confirm that China has refrained from doing so recently but could in the future.There has been a longstanding demand to include currency rules in trade agreements by many U.S. lawmakers and some exporting industries. IN 2015 the Obama administration led a nonbinding currency understanding among the U.S. and 11 Pacific countries included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But Mr. Trump withdrew from that agreement. Then last year in the USMCA was a section on currency, but it awaits Congressional approval. The language used in the USMCA discouraged manipulation. However, only a section on transparency will be enforceable if the new North American deal enters into force, economists say. The China pact may go further on enforcement than just requiring transparency, with penalties for violating international economic principles in ways that cheapen a national currency.Mr. Bergsten said, “there is a possibility that the enforcement mechanism may have broader coverage, which would be significant and would represent a further step forward into bringing discipline to the currency-manipulation issue.”He thinks that the US and China will in all likelihood resolve currency disputes in similar fashion to strictly trade-related issues, perhaps with sets of consultations among economic or Treasury officials from the two nations, with tariffs and perhaps other sanctions allowed as penalties.This executive agreement will not be submitted to Congress for ratification. Hence the U.S.-China deal will not have the same legal structure as a free-trade agreement. Some Congress members gear that the pact could improperly change U.S. trade policies without their approval.

Africa News

US$4.8mn grant to accelerate African free trade approved by AfDB

Institutional support grant of US$4.8mn to the African Union (AU) to accelerate the momentum of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) has been approved by an African Development Bank (AfDB)Intra-African trade is expected to expand by up to US$35bn per year thanks to the AfCFTA, which serves as a major force for continental integration and usher in freedom of movement for goods, services and people across the continent’s internal borders, with a regime of reduced tariffs and non-tariff barriers to cut the cost of doing business on the continent. It will also boost agriculture and industrial exports by up to US$66bn per year.The grant received from AfDB will be targeted at laying the institutional foundations for the AfCFTA implementation secretariat and the rollout of the implementation programmes.Mr. Andoh Mensah, manager for trade and investment climate division at AfDB, said, “It is now crucial to establish a robust, efficient, purpose-driven secretariat, capable of addressing improved stakeholder engagement, inclusiveness and ownership in the AfCFTA implementation.”While generating stakeholder support for the AfCFTA to ensure inclusiveness and common ownership, the grant is set to assist efforts towards full ratification of the agreement by all AU member states including the application of tariff reductions and related commitments.African political leaders for the Bank and other partners have given this decisive response to the call by to support the AU Commission and work assiduously towards the realisation of AfCFTA objectives.

Human capital plan launched in Africa by World Bank

A new plan to enable Africa’s young people to grow up with optimal health and equipped with the right skills has been unveiled by the World Bank to compete in the digitising global economy.Of all the world’s regions the lowest scores on the World Bank’s Human Capital Index, a measurement of how well countries invest in the next generation of workers, is of Sub-Saharan Africa. High mortality and stunting rates in the region, as well as inadequate student learning outcomes – all of which have a direct effect on economic productivity are Sub-Saharan Africa is explained by the score.The World Bank’s Africa Human Capital Plan is setting ambitious targets to be achieved in the region by 2023 in an effort to help countries turn these indicators around. These consist of a drastic reduction in child mortality to save four million lives, averting stunting among 11mn children and increasing learning outcomes for girls and boys in school by 20 per cent. An upwards rise Africa’s Human Capital Index score to increase the productivity of future workers by 13 per cent is possible with these achievements.“Preventing a child from fulfilling his or her potential is not only fundamentally unjust, but it also limits the growth potential of economies whose future workers are held back. GDP per worker in Sub-Saharan Africa could be 2.5 times higher if everyone were healthy and enjoyed a good education from pre-school to secondary school,” said Hafez Ghanem, vice-president at World Bank for Africa.Further the plan also focuses on empowering women to prevent early marriage and pregnancy for adolescent girls.In the next funding cycle the World Bank plans to increase its investments in human capital in Africa by 50 per cent. New World Bank grants and concessional finance for human capital projects in Africa totalling US$15bn in fiscal years 2021-2023 are included.The World Bank will also target new interventions that leverage technology and innovation that prevent and reverse damage to human capital in fragile and conflict-affected settings.“Human Capital Project countries are breaking away from traditional paradigms to make an investment in their people a priority and are working in a more coordinated way across government to ensure that households have the right enabling environment to support human capital formation,” said Ms. Annette Dixon, vice-president at World Bank human development.

HID’s ID solutions for e-Visa and e-Permit services selected by Tanzania

An identity solutions provider, HID Global, has announced that the government of Tanzania has selected HID’s citizen ID solutions to add e-Visa and e-Permit capabilities to its e-Passport
Visitors and residents will be allowed to apply for and receive validated credentials for travelling or living in the country with the new web-based visa and residence permit services.Ms. Anna Peter Makakala, Tanzania’s commissioner general of immigration, said, “This is an important milestone as we continue to work with HID Global to enhance and broaden the capabilities of our e-Immigration ecosystem.” “We plan to continue expanding this solution to our country’s border crossings and across the broader global community as we become a showcase for efficient, comprehensive and integrated e-Immigration solutions,” she added.Mr. Rob Haslam, vice-president of sales, citizen ID business with HID Global, commented, “We are pleased to be entering this second deployment phase with the government of Tanzania, building on the success of the country’s e-Passport roll-out last year.”“Immigration officers in Tanzania now have a convenient and efficient toolset for completing their vital mission of vetting and granting electronic visa and residence permit credentials to applicants,” he stated.

UN-Habitat’s finance development to benefit Kenya’s Meru county

The UN-Habitat has committed to supporting the county government of Meru in Kenya with a grant for collaboration on Municipal Finance, financed by the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA)Implementation of Meru County’s “My Town, my Business” initiative, endeavour to promote proactive and responsible citizenship for improved revenue collection and service delivery will be the initial focus of this grant.The cost of Meru’s devolved functions was estimated to be 12th largest in the country, and yet it receives one of the lowest per capita contributions from the Central Government. This initiative comes at a crucial time when Meru is under pressure to increase its own source revenue.Though this gap can be filled with own-source revenue, the county government has struggled to reach its own revenue targets and collected US$5.53mn of the targeted US$7.73mn in the financial year 2016/2017.The county government is eager to collaborate with UN-Habitat with a yearly pro capita tax revenue of US$4.07mn (2016/2017) and benefit from its global expertise to increase the resources it has available to invest in the development of the county.Tto analyse the tax design and tax collection processes of the county and come up with comprehensive and actionable recommendations for quick improvements in revenue, the project foresees UN-Habitat providing a team of Municipal Finance experts. The insights which emerge from this collaboration will then be used to inform the “My Town, my Business” initiative and transform it into a flagship programme for replication in other parts of Kenya.This Urban Economy and Finance Branch at UN-Habitat, which works globally on Municipal Finance, Local Economic Development and Youth and is currently launching several similar projects in other Kenyan counties, will be implementing the initiative.

Two solar projects to be developed in Zambia by Building Energy

Located in Kabwe District, Zambia, Building Energy SpA, global renewable energy solution provider, will develop two-20MW ac solar projects in Bulemu, which are set to generate 50 GWh each per yearTo facilitate private sector investment in the country, the company has been appointed preferred bidder in the GET FiT tender launched by the government of the Republic of Zambia and KfW.GET FiT programme is a partnership between the Zambian Ministry of Energy and the German Development Bank, KfW, implemented by the GET FiT Secretariat in order to develop small and medium-scale Renewable Energy Independent Power Projects (IPPs) in Zambia.This is the single largest Solar PV tender implemented in Sub-Saharan Africa to date outside of South Africa and represents the first phase of implementing the Government of the Republic of Zambia’s REFiT strategy, launched in 2017.The Republic of Zambia features an average annual growth in electricity consumption of around three per cent, and has set the goal for universal access to reliable and affordable energy at the lowest total economic, financial, social and environmental cost for all Zambians by 2030.The country has abundant renewable energy sources and hydropower is the major contributor to the country’s electricity supply with 2,380MW.Proposed by Building Energy, the awarded tariff of 3.99 USc/Kwh, is the lowest achieved through a public tender in sub-Sahara Africa for a solar project.In Africa, the company has a strong presence across the solar, wind and hydro projects. Building Energy has been managing and coordinating the development and realisation of more than 350MWp of projects in South Africa and in sub-Saharan Africa including Zambia, Uganda and Mali, after opening its office in Cape Town.One of Building Energy’s projects in Africa is a photovoltaic plant in Tororo, Eastern Uganda, which started generating energy in October 2017.

Anti-bribery certificate received by Angola’s Aenergy

The country’s largest thermal power plant Angola-based Aenergy, which operates and provides locomotive engines for the nation’s railways, has been awarded the anti-bribery management system certificateIndicative of how to develop businesses in a transparent way in Africa, the ISO 37001 award is testament proactive anti-bribery measures.Based in the capital Luanda, Aenergy is guided by international standards of safeguarding and commercial activity also noted by Bureau Veritas.“This certification demonstrates the ethical values and the forward-looking strategy pursued by Aenergy in all activities in Africa with the goals to be an innovative leader in renewable energy and climate finance, to deliver a better life and generate jobs to the African people across the entire continent,” said Mr. Ricardo Machado, chairman of Aenergy.Aenergy is engaged in several projects across Africa and the world including Ghana, Cameroon, Namibia, Singapore, the UK and the USA.It is also planning to issue US$400mn in Green Bonds for renewable energy projects in Africa as part of its commitment to innovation.

Demonstrators in Sudan Press for Civilian Government Transition

After longtime President Omar al-Bashir deposed by military, Sit-ins continue as protesters seek a handover of powerThis weekend, as organizers of protests that forced the ouster of long-serving President Omar al-Bashir pressed the military to immediately hand power to a transitional civilian government, thousands of demonstrators staged sit-ins outside Sudan’s Defense Ministry in defiance of curfews.A civilian administration was the only entity that would represent real regime change, as the military was solely concerned with “maintaining their grip on power.” the Sudanese Professionals Association, the main organizer of nationwide protests that began in December, said.Joyful and musical demonstrations that some soldiers in uniform joined near the ministry gates, were staged by protesters waving banners, flags and placards.After Defence Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf stepped down as head of the country’s transitional ruling military council, demonstrators in Khartoum celebrate on April 13 PHOTO:REUTERS After three decades in power the military junta ousted Mr. Bashir following the new intensified demands and the face-off with demonstrators on Thursday. This was followed by months of unrest that swelled from a demonstration against surging bread prices to a broad-based national pro-democracy movement.Protesters fear the military will echo the situation in neighbouring Egypt and cling to power. There, political and popular opposition has effectively been stifled by the government of President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi after taking control in a popular 2013 coup.The military was urged jointly by the U.S., U.K. and Norway to join a dialogue that would speed the transition to civilian rule and warned the generals against using violence against protesters.“It is vital that the authorities listen to the calls from the Sudanese people,” they said. “Sudan needs an orderly transition to civilian rule leading to elections in a reasonable time frame.”Now under house arrest, the ouster of Mr. Bashir followed Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s resignation in March after two decades in power. In scenes reminiscent of the 2011 Arab Spring revolts, protests have also taken place in Tunisia and Morocco in recent months, as a wave of popular unrest has reverberated across North Africa.Led by some officers who helped Mr. Bashir orchestrate a genocide in Darfur in the 2000s, talks on Saturday between the Sudanese military council——and protest organizers didn’t satisfy demonstrators, who have for months braved arrests, beatings and tear gas.On Saturday the head of the military council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdelrahman said that the transitional government would stay in power for a maximum of two years. People detained during the protests were ordered to be release and promised dialogue with opposition members and protest organizers.However the pleas have been ignored by the protest organizers. “Our promise and oath to the continuation of revolution remains until the fulfillment of the demands of the declaration of freedom and change,” the Sudanese Professionals Association said.The protesters face the prospect of another protracted fight to force a full transition said Ms. Judd Devermont, an Africa analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies,.“As is the case in Algeria, protesters almost certainly will continue to mount protests to fight for a full transition. Their commitment, however, will be tested if the government initiates a more brutal crackdown,” he said.The removal of Mr. Bashir—a former general who seized power in a 1989 military coup was announced Sudan’s armed forces on Thursday —ending a presidency marred by conflict, corruption and stunted economic development.The junta has refrained from deploying force and appears to be divided on how to engage with the protesters.After just a day in office Defence Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, the leader of the military officers who ousted Mr. Bashir, stepped down on Friday . In a move some analysts interpreted as a victory for more-moderate forces within the military Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh, the powerful head of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service, followed suit on Saturday.Since the unrest started human-rights groups have urged the military to investigate allegations of torture, arbitrary detention and killings.“The new authorities in Sudan must address past human rights violations and undertake desperately needed reforms to ensure that there can be no repeat of the heinous crimes under international law,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty’s International director for East Africa.

Subsidy for gas turbine project Announced by Dutch government

For the project ‘High Hydrogen Gas Turbine Retrofit to Eliminate Carbon Emissions’. the Dutch government has awarded subsidy to six partners including Ansaldo Thomassen, Delft University of Technology, OPRA Turbines, Vattenfall, Nouryon and EMMTEC The subsidy is awarded as part of the Dutch hydrogen programme within the top sector energy area of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, and is valued at US$565.58,000.The subsidy is approved considering the cooperation of partners from Dutch academia and industry and is apportioned among all partners of the consortium based on their specific contributions to the project. The Dutch hydrogen programme focuses on future carbon-free hydrogen value chains in line with European Commission 2050 Energy Strategy Directives.The programme aims to enable joint innovation between Dutch companies and institutes to be able to deliver economic value in the short-to-medium-term as hydrogen can deliver a carbon-free solution for industry, mobility, housing and the power sector.To develop cost-effective ultra-low emissions (sub-9ppm NOx and CO) combustion system retrofit for existing installed gas turbines in the output range of one megawatt to 300MW is the major objective of the project.A major requirement is fuel flexibility and stable operation from 100 per cent natural gas to 100 per cent hydrogen and any mixture. Extreme changes in fuel reactivity switching from natural gas to hydrogen can result in dramatic shifting of heat release within the combustor, which can be physically destructive if not well controlled and this poses a major challenge. The patented and novel aerodynamic trapped vortex FlameSheet combustion technology platform, owned by Genoa Italy-based Ansaldo Energia is at the centre of this innovative high-technology project. The FlameSheet combustion system is operating commercially in multiple 60hz F-Class gas turbine power plants with sub-9ppm NOx emissions including with the use of hydrogen- blended fuel mix.A full-scale atmospheric verification in 2020, which will ultimately lead to a first engine demonstrator by 2023 is the prime focus of this award from the Dutch government.An experienced expert Ansaldo Thomassen BV, the lead applicant, is in high technology gas turbine retrofits. Delft University of Technology provides advanced theoretical, computational and experimental experience in support of advanced high hydrogen combustion development. Significant progress in the realization of dry low NOx, carbon-free production of power and heat can be made in the project, in which OPRA is a manufacturer of gas turbines with access to state-of-the-art test facilities which will play an important role. The knowledge from this project will enable the power plant operator partners Vattenfall, EMMTEC and Nouryon, to make. Hydrogen generated from renewable energy resources such as excess wind and solar will also allow existing gas turbine power plants to become part of the large-scale energy storage solution.

World News

The MPA of Singapore to focus on Digitisation to innovate and improve productivity

SINGAPORE: Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport & Ministry of Health, at the 4th Singapore Maritime Technology Conference (SMTC) announced that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will focus on digitisation over the next three years to help companies innovate and improve productivity.He added that the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) will also present the Singapore Maritime R&D Roadmap 2030 to optimise R&D efforts and resources for greater value co-creation within the maritime industry.“Innovation and digitalisation are key areas for Maritime Singapore to sharpen our competitive edge. We recognise that some companies need help to kick-start their digitalisation journey. With this in mind, we have formed the Circle of Digital InnOvators (CDO) network to champion the adoption of technology and innovation. We will also roll out the Sea Transport Industry Digital Plan to help SMEs in their digitalisation journey. We hope that through such efforts, we can bring the maritime sector to a new level,” said Ms Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of MPA. Circle of Digital InnOvators Network
The MPA and the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) are working together to encourage more maritime corporates to join the CDO network. The CDO network was set up in late 2018 to help drive transformation through the adoption of technology and innovation. The network started with 23 members, and has since expanded to 46 members.The CDO network mainly aims to spearhead digitisation initiatives in the maritime industry and uplift the innovation hub status of Maritime Singapore. The programme comprises events such as learning journeys and hands-on workshops to upskill this select group of individuals in the areas of corporate innovation.
Sea Transport Industry Digital PlanIn partnership with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), MPA will roll out the Sea Transport Industry Digital Plan (IDP) for the ship agency and harbour craft sub-sectors.The Sea Transport IDP is aligned to the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map. It provides small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Sea Transport industry with an easy-to-use, step-by-step guide on the digital solutions to adopt at each stage of their growth. It simplifies the process for SMEs to go digital so that they can readily access the right digital capabilities to achieve internal efficiencies, reduce cost, and improve their services for sustained growth in the digital economy.Singapore R&D Roadmap 2030: Maritime Transformation The SMI has refreshed the Singapore Maritime R&D Roadmap, which charts out the key thrusts for our research community to channel their R&D efforts. The Roadmap, titled ‘Singapore R&D Roadmap 2030: Maritime Transformation’ helps to create better strategic alignment and resource allocation by funding agencies, industry and our research and technology communities.

Rise in box imports into the US

WASHINGTON :Imports into the United States through major retail container ports are beginning to increase again, especially as retailers are starting to stock up in anticipation of a strong summer, as said in a report by the monthly Global Port Tracker of the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.Reports say that March imports have reportedly been 1.63 million TEUs, up 5.9 per cent year-on-year. April is estimated at 1.75 million TEUs, up 6.9 per cent; May at 1.9 million TEUs, up 4 per cent; June at 1.89 million TEUs, up 2 per cent; July at 1.96 million TEUs, up 2.9 per cent, and August at 1.97 million TEUs, up 4.3 per cent.

Singapore retains position as top maritime capital

Singapore:The recently released Leading Maritime Capitals report for 2019 has fresh insight on which maritime metropolises provide the best support for companies in shipping and related services. Some of the criteria are soft and hard infrastructure and access to world class talent and services, all of which are key components that maritime businesses need to thrive in their chosen locations. Singapore maintained its top position at the head of the 15 leading maritime capitals.Despite a somewhat weak trade cycle in traditional shipping and offshore oil and gas markets yet to recover, Singapore was able to retain its lead in three of the five pillars of the ranking: shipping, ports and logistics, and attractiveness and competitiveness.In the two remaining pillars, London took the lead in Maritime Finance & Law, while Oslo topped in Maritime Technology.According to a release, the overall ranking reveals that Hamburg remains in the number two spot, while Oslo drops from third to seventh. Rotterdam and Hong Kong show the biggest improvement, climbing to third and fourth, respectively, with London rounding out the top five, and Shanghai at number six.Shahrin Osman, Regional Head of Maritime Advisory, DNV GL, says, “Maritime Singapore’s continuous effort to strengthen its attractiveness as an international maritime centre has been well received by the industry. The strong results on both the objective indicators and expert assessments indicate its relevance as a critical node within the maritime sector regionally and globally.”There is greater awareness among the general public that the maritime industry is a cornerstone of global trade, and those cities and regions that attract maritime commerce are positioned to command leading roles in the economic future of the world. Some new and more comprehensive objective and subjective indicators as well as data sources have been used for the 2019 report to ensure that the analysis is based on reliable and complete data for the various cities, which ultimately allows for a more accurate and refined projection of the relative performance of each city. The subjective indicators reveal the perception and assessment of each capital as seen by selected business executives from all around the globe, primarily shipowners and managers.Erik W. Jakobsen, partner in Menon Economics, said, “One of the new indicators this year is connected to the tremendous sustainability challenges of the oceans. According to the 200 maritime experts in the study, Oslo stands out as the main centre for ocean technologies and solutions, with a higher score than the combined value of the three next in the rank—Singapore, Copenhagen and Rotterdam.”Of the 200 experts called upon to respond to the survey, around 40 per cent are based in Europe, 30 per cent in Asia, and the remaining 30 per cent in America, the Middle East and Africa.The experts, when asked to look five years into the future, foresee Singapore retaining its top position, but with stronger competition from Shanghai, and Dubai poised to climb into the top five overall by 2024. Hamburg, Rotterdam, London and Oslo are expected to stay strong in Europe.The release mentioned that the Leading Maritime Capitals 2019 report was made in cooperation between Menon Economics and DNV GL.

UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs issues guidance to freight sector on trade in endangered species in event of no-deal Brexit

London :As per a release, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the UK has issued additional guidance on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) following a recent event organised by the British International Freight Association (BIFA).Mr Robert Keen, Director-General of the trade association that represents the UK’s freight forwarding sector, says: “One of the consequences of Brexit will be that freight forwarders and Customs agents will become involved in regimes with which they may not have been previously.”One such area is CITES, which is much wider ranging than people might have thought.”BIFA members expressed their concerns about how the movement of products covered by this regime, which are manufactured in the EU—using, for example, lizard, snake or crocodile skins—and currently freely imported into the UK, might be affected post-Brexit.”BIFA sought greater guidance from DEFRA, which resulted in a well-attended regional meeting in Dover. “Following that meeting, the government department issued further and broader guidance to be used in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, which sets out how people who trade in, travel with, or handle the shipment of endangered animals, plants or products thereof would be affected.”The guidance includes further information on the list of CITES-designated ports, including specific guidance for RoRo services.”As a body that represents and lobbies on behalf of the UK freight forwarding sector, this is a perfect example of the work that BIFA does to assist its members, which are responsible for handling the shipment of a significant proportion of the UK’s visible import and export trade.”

2018 shows good financial results for port of Le Havre

Le Havre:At a recent meeting, the Supervisory Board of the Port of Le Havre (part of HAROPA) has welcomed the good financial results for 2018, which it said reflect a significant improvement in the port’s situation and the restoration of its internal financing capacity.A release stressed that the balance sheet allows the port to carry out its ambitious investment programme agreed in 2018 and to consolidate its development as part of an integrated complex all along the Seine corridor.Mr Emmanuèle Perron said, “As Chair of the Supervisory Board, I am pleased with the results achieved both in terms of traffic and financial matters; I should like to congratulate and thank all the teams for the work done, especially Hervé Martel and Baptiste Maurand. The good figures mean we can “make it”, that is to say, continue the operations undertaken in recent years and initiate new ones. Our port is in good health today and ready to meet the challenges to ensure our development.”

The port in excellent financial condition

The release said that this situation was due—in the same proportions—to the growth in turnover, the control of expenses, and the support of the state.The increase in turnover, which stands at € 195 million for 2018, reflects the effectiveness and relevance of the pricing policy set up, particularly with regard to the new public property policy adopted by the port of Normandy.The cash flow from operations exceeds the target set by the strategic project and stands at € 55 million for 2018: a result that has tripled in the last five years.There is also an improvement in the cash flow-to-debt ratio, which indicates the number of years needed to repay the debt: 3 years in 2018 against 13 years in 2013.
Change in governance Mr Hervé Martel, Managing Director of the Port of Le Havre since March 23, 2012, has been appointed head of the Seaport of Marseille (Grand Port Maritime de Marseille) from April 15, 2019.Mr Baptiste Maurand, previously Deputy Managing Director of the Port of Le Havre, has been appointed Managing Director.The Executive Committee of the port now consists of Mr Baptiste Maurand as Chair, Mr Serge Ferreira, Director of Human Resources, and Mr Sylvain Levieux, Director of Finance, the release informed.

Malaysia & Singapore suspend implementation of their overlapping port limits.

Singapore:Singapore and Malaysia have mutually decided to suspend the implementation of their overlapping port limits, going back to the port limits in place prior to October 25, 2018, and December 6, 2018, respectively. This is an effort to make the environment more conducive for the success of their leaders’ upcoming meeting.Moreover, Singapore and Malaysia have also agreed not to authorise and to suspend all commercial activities in the area, as well as not to anchor any government vessels there.The two countries, it may be recalled, have been embroiled in a dispute over Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas after Malaysia unilaterally extended the Johor Baru port limits last October. At that time Singapore had responded by extending its port limits within its territorial waters.However, as per reports, in March, both sides agreed to de-escalate tensions by jointly suspending their overlapping port claims and reverting to their ports’ former limits.

EU seeks dispute consultations with India regarding duties levied on ITC products.

Geneva:The European Union (EU) claims that India is imposing tariffs on nine categories of information and communications technology (ITC) products in excess of its zero per cent WTO-bound tariff rates on the products.The EU has requested dispute consultations with India regarding duties imposed by the latter on imports of certain (ITC) products. The request was circulated to WTO members on April 9.Consultations give the parties an opportunity to discuss the matter and find a satisfactory solution without proceeding further with litigation. Thus a request for consultations formally initiates a dispute in the WTO.As informed by a communiqué, if after 60 days, consultations have failed to resolve the dispute, the complainant may request adjudication by a panel.

Amid WTO battle, EU Prepares Tariffs against U.S.

EU, U.S. nearing the end of a battle over plane-maker subsidies after 15 years of WTO litigation BRUSSELS: The European Union is preparing tariffs on $12 billion of U.S. products over subsidies to Boeing Co. BA -1.10% , raising the stakes on the Trump administration’s plan for punishing the EU’s support to rival plane maker Airbus SE . EADSY 0.49% On Monday the U.S. said that it intended to impose tariffs on $11.2 billion of imports from the EU, following which Europe made this move. Brussels’s swift response highlights its resolve to go blow-for-blow with Washington over the matter.Both are salvos in the two sides’ long-running fight at the World Trade Organization over government subsidies to the jet makers, which dominate the large commercial airplane market. Both the U.S. and EU are starting the process to impose the tariffs, but essentially are staking out what they believe is the appropriate penalty for the other’s trade transgressions.However, the USA and the EU have both said they eventually will abide by whatever is decided by the world trade watchdog, which already has ruled some of the subsidies on both sides are illegal and is determining the damages.According to people familiar with the discussions, EU officials outlined their plan on Friday. The EU will choose the products to be targeted from an initial list of $20 billion worth of U.S. exports.The Airbus-Boeing spat is inching toward a finale after 15 years of WTO litigation. By mid-summer, judges at the international trade watchdog are expected to determine how much the U.S. can retaliate against the EU, based on the harm done to Boeing due to aid given to Airbus. The EU is poised to get an answer from the WTO on its claims by early 2020.Final rulings on awards for both the U.S. and the EU are expected to be for significantly lower amounts than the damages the parties have claimed. Washington and Brussels can opt for settling their differences without resorting to punitive tariffs, as they have done some cases in the past. An official at the European Commission, the EU’s executive and trade authority, said, “The EU remains open for discussions with the U.S., provided these are without preconditions and aim at a fair outcome.” A broad cross-section of industries on both sides of the Atlantic could be affected by the potential levies upward of $20 billion between the U.S. and the EU. They would also come as Washington and Brussels seek to revamp trade links, following a brief tariff conflict last year.By agreeing to slash tariffs and cut red tape to boost trans-Atlantic trade, Mr. Trump and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker averted a bruising trade fight with a deal in July.Yet on Tuesday Mr. Trump hailed the proposed tariffs over Airbus subsidies, after his trade representative said “the time has come for action,” seizing on a longstanding complaint.Subsidies to Airbus by the EU has adversely impacted the US observed The World Trade Organization. The US is now ready to levy tariffs on $11 billion worth of EU products. All these years of advantage that the EU has taken from the US will soon come to an end. Mr. Trump tweeted, “The EU has taken advantage of the U.S. on trade for many years,” adding, “It will soon stop!”To give an idea of the broad impact WTO-driven retaliation can have, the U.S. said its proposed list of tariff targets contains not only Airbus aircraft, but also non-aviation items, which would also be selected and targeted if the WTO grants Washington’s bid for damages in full.Likewise, the EU is looking for American exports that will reverberate beyond Boeing, preferably squeezing supporters of Mr. Trump and his Republican allies in the agricultural industries, a sector already hit by the U.S.-China trade fight.A Diplomat from the EU said, “We’ll try to pick products which will hurt the U.S. worse,” adding, “You want to pressure those segments that are Trump’s voters, so he feels the pressure as well when he pressures us.”However, the USA and EU have been careful to separate their WTO fight over plane makers from other bilateral trade issues. THE USA said on Tuesday that the two sides always strove to compartmentalize issues and cooperated wherever they could.EU governments, meanwhile, greenlighted a mandate for talks with the U.S. to slash tariffs on industrial goods.As Another EU diplomat said, “These are two different things.”

ICS, ASA and ECSA commit to deeper cooperation on maritime issues

SINGAPORE: A joint memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA) and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) to enhance their cooperation on relevant maritime issues.The new MoU was signed in Singapore on April 8, 2019. It provides a framework for closer cooperation among ICS, ASA, and ECSA. The three international trade associations together represent over 90 percent of the world merchant fleet. The agreement recognizes their respective memberships of national shipowners’ associations and the relationship which their members enjoy with their National Governments.The MOU specifically confirms the roles of ICS, ASA and ECSA as the principal global and regional associations, representing shipowners and operators – in all shipping sectors and trades – with those global and regional organisations, regulators and other bodies which affect the interests of international shipping.Esben Poulsson, ICS Chairman, said, “Shipping is a global industry requiring global rules. It is only natural that we should further cement our relationships to ensure that we work as effectively as possible in support of a global regulatory framework for shipping and in opposition to unwelcome regional or unilateral initiatives that may impede the efficiency of maritime trade.”

US Ports: February 2019 sees 14 per cent fall in retail imports

WASHINGTON:The National Retail Federation (NRF) said that there was a 14.3 per cent drop in imports at major U.S. retail container ports in February.The NRF said that U.S. ports handled 1.62 million twenty-foot equivalent units, commonly known as TEU, in February, as per the latest available data to show retail container port activities.A measure used for capacity in container transportation is called a TEU. One TEU usually stands for a 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.The NRF said, “That was down 14.3 percent from January and down 4 percent year-over-year.”Factory shutdown in Asia during the Lunar New Year, and “the lull” between retailers’ holiday and summer seasons, are the reasons why February is traditionally the ‘slowest month’, said the NRF.Jonathan Gold, Vice President for supply chain and customs policy of the NRF, said, regarding the outlook of retail imports for the upcoming months, that U.S. retailers were starting to stock up for an anticipated strong summer.Shipments to major US retail container ports were expected to increase by 5.9% year-on-year and reach 1.63 million TEU in March by the NRF.

Britain given six more months by European Union for Brexit

BRUSSELS:Britain has been given six more months to leave the bloc by EU leaders, which is more than Prime Minister Theresa May says she needs but less than many in the bloc wanted, thanks to fierce resistance from France.The summit deal in Brussels in the early hours of Thursday, 11th April, meant Britain will not crash out without a treaty to smooth its passage. But it offers little clarity on when, how or even if Brexit will happen, as May struggles to build support in parliament for withdrawal terms agreed with the EU last year.There was never any real doubt that May would get an extension, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisting that Britain would not be forced out and that a chaotic no-deal departure must be avoided if at all possible.

MPA Singapore grants funding to Digital Startups

SINGAPORE :the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will give SGD 50,000 (USD 36,853) each, in seed funding, to thirteen out of the seventeen technology start-ups which participated in Singapore’s Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2018.These start-ups can now develop and test-bed their innovative solutions that were close to reaching the market utilising this seed funding.Apart from the seed funding, announced by the MPA and NUS Enterprise, an entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), twelve startups were given the opportunity to pitch their solutions to venture capitalists at the inaugural Mixer and Pitch Session, held as part of the Singapore Maritime Technology Conference (SMTC) 2019.The session aims to strengthen the development of the maritime innovation ecosystem and open up opportunities in the maritime industry for start-ups and venture capitalists.

RBI Governor: India to be fastest-growing economy this year despite risks of global slowdown

WASHINGTON:According to Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das, India will remain the fastest-growing economy this year, registering a growth rate of 7.2 per cent in 2019-20, despite risks of a global slowdown, financial markets and crude price volatility.Mr. Das requested greater co-operation among emerging market economies on all fronts which will help them be better off in this uncertain environment.At the event, Governor Talks”, held on the sidelines of the Fund-Bank Spring Meetings, 2019, Washington DC. Mr. Das said, “Real GDP growth is expected to clock 7.2 per cent during 2019-20, the fastest among large economies of the world, growing by an average rate of around 7.5 per cent in recent years.”