National News

Hyderabad sees Port of Antwerp’s Customer Network meet: Belgian minister, Belgian ambassador attend

MUMBAI: On Friday, April 12, at Hotel Avasa, Hyderabad, the Antwerp Port Authority organised an exclusive interaction for their customer network in Telangana & Andhra Pradesh with H.E. Mr. Philippe De Backer, Belgian Federal Minister for Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services. This was in the presence of H.E. François Delhaye, the Belgian Ambassador to India. The event was held with active support from Mr. Mark Van de Vreken, Consul General of the Belgian Consulate in South India,The event attracted participants from not only Hyderabad but also regions of Vijayawada, Vizag, and Chennai. Mr. De Backer responded to questions from a curious audience ranging from digital in logistics, India-Europe trade, BREXIT impact on European trade, and also outlined the role of the Port of Antwerp with its customer centric approach: investing to enhance infrastructure capacities, community-builder role in digitization through the next generation data platform called Nxtport, and efforts to exchange best practice in international markets like India through training of logistics/port professionals and offering consultancy.

For the first time in three years 2018-19 sees India become net steel importer

NEW DELHI:India lost market share among its traditional steel buyers, and imports jumped on demand for higher-quality steel domestically. Due to this, the country was a net importer of steel during the 2018-19 fiscal year, for the first time in three years. In the fiscal year that ended in March, India’s finished steel exports fell by 34% to 6.36 mn tonnes, according to preliminary Government data. India’s finished steel imports rose 4.7% to 7.84 mn tonnes in the same period.Rival steelmakers in China, Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia, blocked from markets in the United States and Europe by tariffs and other protectionist measures, started looking at India’s markets in the Middle East and Africa. After this, India’s exports during the fiscal year declined, said an Indian Government official with close knowledge of the issue. The official said that Imports from the four Asian countries also climbed as they diverted supply into India. Imports of value-added steel, primarily for the auto sector and high-end electrical steel were the biggest source of imports, the source said. While the Government data did not specify stainless steel import levels, industry participants have noted an increase in overseas supply.

Rise in Oilmeal exports 31% in FY19 to Rs 6,222 crore

NEW DELHI:Industry data showed that Oilmeal exports rose by 31 % to Rs 6,222 crore during the last fiscal year on higher volumes as well as price realisation. As per the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) data, India had exported oilmeals worth Rs 4,762 crore during the 2017-18 fiscal. The volume of exports increased 6 % to 3.2 mn tonnes in the 2018-19 fiscal year from 3.02 mn tonnes in the previous year.Soyabean meal exports rose to 13,37,215 tonnes during the last fiscal from 11,87,818 tonnes in the previous year.Rapeseed meal shipments rose sharply from 6,63,988 tonnes to 10,51,869 tonnes. South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand were major importers of rapeseed meal.

Industry data shows surge in sugar exports this year so far

PUNE:As per industry data, thus far in the current marketing year ending September, India’s sugar exports have risen to 17.44 lakh tonnes, as against about 5 lakh tonnes shipped in the entire 2017-18.
In a statement, the All India Sugar Trade Association (AISTA) said that raw sugar accounted for nearly 8 lakh tonnes out of the 17.44 lakh tonnes exported between October 1 and April 6. Another 4.3 lakh tonnes are in the export pipeline, it added. 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.”
In the last marketing year, India had exported around 5 lakh tonnes of the sweetener amid lower prices in the global markets, which made Indian shipments uncompetitive. AISTA said that major export destinations are Bangladesh, Ceylon, Somalia, and Iran.To liquidate surplus stock, the Centre has asked the mills to export 50 lakh tonnes of sugar in 2018-19 marketing year (October-September). Various incentives have been provided by the Government to increase sugar exports.

Current season will see mills export 2.7 mn tonnes of sugar

NEW DELHI:A leading trade body recently said that Indian sugar mills have contracted to export 2.7 mn tonnes of sugar since the current season began on Oct. 1. Praful Vithalani, President of the All India Sugar Trade Association, said that mills have already shipped out 1.7 mn tonnes of sugar. Vithalani said that Indian mills have sold an almost equal quantity of raw and refined (white) sugar, for which the top destinations are 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 mn tonnes of sugar in the 2018-19 season to help prop up prices by trimming bulging stocks.

VOC Port handles 5.38 % higher Container traffic in FY 2019

TUTICORIN:A fall in cargo traffic was witnessed in 2018-19 by the VO Chidambaram Port (VOC) in Thoothukudi, a major port in southern Tamil Nadu. One of the main reasons was the closure of the Sterlite copper smelter plant, as Sterlite’s contribution was an annual volume of around 1.5 mn tonnes (mt). VOC Port handled a cargo throughput of 34.34 mt in 2018-19 against 36.53 mt in 2017-18, a nearly 7 % drop. 38 mt was the target fixed by the Shipping Ministry for 2018-19. Sources say that positive growth was seen by fertiliser and container cargo, 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.
In 2017-18, the port handled nearly 2 mt of wheat in 2017-18; however, in 2018-19, the Government had stopped wheat import.

Container traffic rises 5.38%

Container traffic increased 5.38 % to 7.39 lakh TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units). With the inauguration of the first mainline vessel to the Dakshin Bharat Gateway Container Terminal in December, the volume is likely to increase.Wan Hai Lines’ China-India Express 2 service connects the VOC Port with Malaysian Ports (Penang and Port Klang), and Chinese Ports (Hong Kong, Qingdao, Shanghai, 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. The port is likely to achieve this by way of organic growth and with increased volume of around 1 mt of coal and limestone for Tamil Nadu Paper Ltd (this cargo was diverted from the Karaikal Port in Puducherry). Sources added that the port is also likely to handle around 1 mt of food grains this year. After a lull of nearly two years, the handling of construction materials for the Maldives is likely to increase; the Maldives imports huge volume from the VOC Port. The VOC Port exported around 1.80 mt of construction material to Maldives in 2016-17. This volume, however, dropped sharply to 0.58 mt in 2017-18, and further to 0.27 mt in 2018-19.Sources said, “It is a seasonal cargo, and we expect that, this year, construction materials will be in good demand in Maldives.”

New high predicted for exports in 2018-19

New Delhi:Analysts predict that India’s exports are expected to touch a new high of over USD330 bn in value in 2018-19. They say that the official figures are likely to be released soon and should see a significant surge when compared to the nearly USD303 bn achieved in the previous fiscal.They pointed out that the rise in petroleum and commodity prices and the recent depreciation of the rupee are supporting exports. Reports say that during April-February of the just-concluded fiscal, exports were nearly 9 % higher, and have since seen a year-end rush of shipments.

2018-19 sees best-ever performance by exports

New Delhi:The cumulative value of exports during the 2018-19 fiscal (April-March) was USD 331.02 bn (Rs. 23,14,429.08 crore), as against USD 303.53 bn (Rs 19,56,514.53 crore) achieved in 2017-18, showing a positive growth of 9.06 % in dollar terms (18.29 % in rupee terms).In March 2019, exports were valued at USD 32.55 bn, as compared to USD 29.32 bn in March 2018, showing a positive growth of 11.02 %. In rupee terms, March 2019 saw exports worth Rs 2,26,138.76 crore, as against Rs. 190,619.25 crore in March 2018, registering a positive growth of 18.63 %. The major commodity groups of export showing positive growth in March this year over March of the previous year were organic and inorganic chemicals (16.98 %), engineering goods (16.27 %), RMG of all textiles (15.13 %), drugs and pharmaceuticals (13.59 %), and petroleum products (6.55 %).Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in March 2019 were USD 25.59 bn, compared to USD 22.57 bn in March 2018, exhibiting a positive growth of 13.41 %. Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in April-March 2018-19 were USD 243.02 bn, as compared to USD 224.52 bn for the corresponding period in 2017-18, an increase of 8.24 %.
In March 2019, imports were valued at USD 43.44 bn (Rs 3,01,814.05 crore). This was 1.44 % higher in dollar terms and 8.39 % higher in rupee terms than imports of USD 42.82 bn (Rs 2,78,441.24 crore) in March 2018. Cumulative value of imports for the period April-March 2018-19 was USD 507.44 bn (Rs 35,48,004.48 crore), as against USD 465.58 bn (Rs 30,01,033.43 crore) during the period April-March 2017-18, registering a positive growth of 8.99 % in dollar terms (18.23 % in rupee terms).Negative growth of imports in March 2019 over the corresponding month of the previous year were mainly commodity groups such as coke, coal, and briquettes, etc. (-14.85 %), organic and inorganic chemicals (-6.35 %), machinery, electrical and non-electrical (-5.74 %), electronic goods (-5.69 %), and pearls, precious and semi-precious stones (-1.03 %).

Crude oil and non-oil imports

Oil imports in March 2019 were USD11.75 bn (Rs 81,609.46 crore), which was 5.55 % higher in dollar terms (12.78 % higher in rupee terms), compared to USD 11.13 bn (Rs 72,359.44 crore) in March 2018. Oil imports in April-March 2018-19 were USD140.47 bn (Rs 9,83,147.76 crore) which was 29.27 % higher in dollar terms (40.39 % higher in rupee terms) compared to USD108.66 bn (Rs 7,00,320.81crore) over the same period the previous year.
Non-oil imports in March 2019 were estimated at USD 31.69 bn (Rs 2,20,204.59 crore) which was at par in dollar terms (6.85 % higher in rupee terms) compared to USD 31.69 bn (Rs 2,06,081.80 crore) in March 2018. Non-oil imports in April-March 2018-19 were USD 366.97 bn (Rs 25,64,856.72 crore) which was 2.82 % higher in dollar terms (11.48 % higher in rupee terms), compared to USD 356.92 bn (Rs 23,00,712.62 crore) in April-March 2017-18.Non-oil and non-gold imports were USD 28.42 bn in March 2019, recording a negative growth of 2.67 % as compared to non-oil and non-gold imports in March 2018. Non-oil and non-gold imports were USD 334.15 bn in April-March 2018-19, recording a positive growth of 3.37 %, as compared to non-oil and non-gold imports in April-March 2017-18, informed an official release.

All-round growth in Oilmeals exports in 2018-19

Mumbai:Data from the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) shows that exports of oilmeals rose by 31 % to a value of Rs 6,222 crore during the just-concluded fiscal as compared to Rs 4,762 crore during 2017-18, on higher volumes as well as price realisation. The latest SEA data also shows that in volume terms, exports increased 6 % to 3.2 mn tonnes in 2018-19 from 3.02 mn tonnes in the previous fiscal. South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand were the major importers of Indian rapeseed meal. The shipment of rapeseed meal rose sharply to 10,51,869 tonnes from 6,63,988 tonnes. The export of soyabean meal also rose to 13,37,215 tonnes during the last fiscal from 11,87,818 tonnes in the previous year.The outward shipment of rice bran meal, however, dropped to 4,40,927 tonnes from 594,129 tonnes. As shown by reports, export of castor seed meal was also down to 3,67,084 tonnes from 5,72,762 tonnes.As shown by 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).

Kamarajar Port’s strategic disinvestment process begins

CHENNAI:The process of 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 for the appointment of a legal advisor in this connection. Reports said that 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 ‘in principle’ approval for strategic disinvestment of 100 % equity shares of the government of India in KPL to Chennai Port Trust in a single stage process by following ‘Arm’s length’ principles.The government and Chennai Port Trust currently hold 67 % and 33 % of shares, respectively, in KPL.As per the request for proposal, DIPAM intends to appoint a transaction advisor for strategic disinvestment of KPL. Bids from reputed domestic law firms with minimum experience of five years and expertise in mergers and acquisitions/takeovers/strategic disinvestment have been invited; these firms will act as legal advisor and assist the government in the process.The proposals are to be submitted in sealed envelopes before 3 pm on April 29.The document says, “The government would reserve the sole right to accept or reject any or all proposals thus received without assigning any reasons thereof.”

CAI predicts fall in India’s cotton exports by 31% in 2018-19

NEW DELHI: The Cotton Association of India (CAI) has estimated an export of 47 lakh bales for the season 2018-19 at, lower by 22 lakh bales than the export of 69 lakh bales last year.It has also projected yearly Balance Sheet for the cotton season 2018-19, wherein the total cotton supply till the end of the cotton season i.e. upto September 2019 has been estimated at 376 lakh bales of 170 kgs each. This consists of an opening stock of 28 lakh bales at the beginning of the cotton season; cotton crop for the season is estimated at 321 lakh bales; imports estimated by the CAI at 27 lakh bales, which are higher by 12 lakh bales compared to the previous year’s imports of 15 lakh bales.

FIEO outlines three major challenges for exporters

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

SOM April 11-12: India, ASEAN vow to step up 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 last meeting. The two SOM leaders discussed 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; for this they proposed to undertake a variety of measures, the MEA said, including enhanced cooperation in the sub-sector of Blue Economy. An impetus would be given to ASEAN-India connectivity in all its forms the SOM decided.

India lowers trade deficit with China by USD10 bn in 2019

NEW DELHI: Due 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 USD10 bn to USD53 bn in 2018-19 year on year.Sources said India’s exports to China rose to USD17 bn during the year from USD13 bn during 2017-18, while imports declined to USD70 bn from USD76 bn.China is the fourth largest export destination of India, and India is the seventh largest export destination of China. Also, China is the top import source for India, while the latter is the 25th largest import source for China.

High textile exports help India reduce trade deficit with China

NEW DELHI: India has reduced its trade deficit with China mainly 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.India’s exports of cotton textiles to China increased 69 % between April 2018 and February 2019 to USD1.55 bn, against USD920 mn in the previous year period. Exports can increase further if the Centre addresses the tariff disadvantage of 3.5-10 % that the Indian industry suffers 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, said the chairman. China is an important trading partner for India with imports of USD65 bn and exports of USD15 bn in the period April 2018 to February 2019. 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 USD63 bn in favor of China, which has now shrunk to USD50.13 bn.

Agri, Processed Food Products’ export dip 2% in Apr-Feb 2018-19

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

Drop in Iron ore and steel exports in FY19

NEW DELHI:In FY19, India’s iron ore exports have dropped 57 % in FY19, and steel exports too have shrunk by 34 %.Indian iron ore export volumes declined significantly, by 57 % from 15.65 mn tonnes in FY18 to 6.81 mn tonnes in FY19. The past three years have seen a reduction in iron ore exports; FY19 has witnessed a three-year low. Data from Indian Commodity Exchange shows that volumes closer to FY19 were witnessed in FY16 when the exports stood at 6.04 mn tonnes.The demand for Indian iron ore in the international market, especially in China, remained fragile for a large part of FY19, says to the spokesperson of ICEX. Strict environmental regulations in China led to increased preference for high grade iron ore by Chinese steel mills. There was subdued demand for low-grade iron ore from India. Iron ore from countries like Australia and Brazil also was more competitive compared to Indian prices during the most part of the year.

FY 19: best-ever annual freight loading by South Central Railway

KOLKATA:2018-19 saw the best-ever annual freight loading performance by the South Central Railway (SCR). The zone reached the mark of 122.51 mn tonnes freight loading last year. Mr. N Madhusudana Rao, Principal Chief Operations Manager states that this achievement 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 mn tonnes to the total freight. Imported coal from the Kakinada and Krishnapatnam Ports also helped.
SCCL is major transporter of coal to various destinations. Cement contributed the second highest share in total freight at 28 mn tonnes. This was a result of the long- term tariff contracts signed with eight cement manufacturers. Mr. Rao added, “These contracts assure steady business and freight tariff.”

Experts list opportunities for India in the Evolving Global Trade Regime

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


Rebound from a slump imply China’s rising March exports

SHANGHAI:March saw a rebound in China’s exports with a continued rise in sales to the United States despite hike in tariffs by President Donald Trump. A spokesman for the Customs Agency said that at USD 198.7 bn exports have risen 14.2% over a year ago, recovering from February’s 20.8% contraction. At USD 166 bn there was a drop in imports of 7.6%, worse than the 5.2% decline of the previous month.Li Kuiwen, spokesperson said that in Chinese currency terms exports to the United States rose 10.6%. He also said that imports of American goods dipped 21% in yuan terms.Chinese leaders are under pressure to make peace with Washington in the tariff war on account of the export slump with Washington especially over 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. Chinese Government spokesperson said that after nine rounds of negotiations, talks with Washington were progressing. Last week’s meeting, the latest one in Washington dealt with specifically these issues like technology transfer, intellectual property rights, agriculture and enforcement.

Experts forecast poor exports for China even if the two sides reach an agreement.

SHANGHAI:Over complaints that Beijing steals or pressurizes companies to hand over technology, Trump hiked tariffs on USD250 bn of Chinese. China reacted with its own hike in tariffs. The dispute has disrupted trade in goods ranging from soybeans to medical equipment, rattling financial markets and prompted the International Monetary Fund and other forecasters to lower their outlook for global economic growth.

In Q1 2019 Chinese economy surpasses expectations

Beijing: Official data shows that with a growth of 6.4%, China’s economy has surpassed.Reports said that industrial production raced ahead and consumer demand picked up, it defied expectations of a further slowdown.

To help domestic poducers, China to cap coal imports in 2019

Shanghai (Reuters):The government of China has decided to cap imports of coal in 2019 at 2018 levels, four reliable sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Tuesday, in an attempt to extend support to domestic producers. China is the world’s largest consumer of coal, importing 281.23 mn tonnes in 2018 including thermal coal, coking coal and anthracite.Meanwhile, domestic production has increased and the output this year is set to be an additional 100 mn tonnes, an official said on Tuesday.Provincial-level Customs officials told three of the sources to limit their imports in 2019 to a maximum of 2018 levels. An official with a government-affiliated body who was familiar with the import policy, our fourth source said that this was decided by China’s State Council. Lengthy checks at Customs had already slowed down sharply shipments from top supplier Australia.“Mining companies and provincial governments voiced their opposition against more imports,” said the official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. A Purchase Manager at a large steel mill in the eastern province of Jiangsu said, “I was summoned to a meeting organized by customs last month and warned to ‘control the purchase pace of imported coal’.”He added that the annual quota for 2019 was being broken into monthly volumes by Customs. At another steel mill in Shandong, a Purchase Manager was also asked to limit imports this year.
When a request for comment was faxed to the China’s General Administration of Customs outside business hours there was no response. Neither did the State Council reply immediately to a request for comment sent outside business hours. However, this capping is not able to prevent the price increases for coal in recent months caused because of lengthy customs delays on imports as also due to Chinese safety checks after mining accidents. After hitting its highest in five months on Monday, the most-active coal contract on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange closed at 617.2 yuan (USD 91.99) per tonne. On Tuesday, spot prices for coal with a heat content of 5,500 kilocalories were at 629 yuan a tonne, far more than the State Planner recommended 570 yuan a tonne. “The increase in domestic supplies is not able to cool prices,” the official said. In December 2018, China coal imports into China were reduced to a trickle, caused by delayed customs clearances so as to meet a 2018 import quota restriction at 2017 levels. Yet, total imports surpassed the 270.9 mn tonnes of coal imported in 2017. Profit margins at Chinese coal-fired utilities have been under pressure because of the rising domestic coal prices, industry executives informed 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 Mr. Guo Xinyi, Director of the Fuel Department at China Huaneng Group, adding that the 200 mn tonnes of annual coal imports cannot be replaced easily.

New land-sea freight route connects China’s Chongqing & India

BEIJING: Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality and India were linked by the launch of was a new land-sea freight route. From Chongqing departed a freight train carrying 25 containers of goods like auto parts worth 8 mn yun (USD 1,2 mn) that stopped at Qinzhou Port in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. This was then transported by sea to India, where it will reach in about 20 days.The new route is part of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, 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 a transport hub, ports in Guangxi’s Beibu Gulf to reach ports in ASEAN countries and links China-Europe freight trains from many Western Chinese cities before heading for Central Asia, South Asia and Europe.By the end of 2018, the corridor – which links 155 ports in 71 countries and regions worldwide – had been traversed 805 times by freight trains.

Chinese Tech Giant: Once fast growing, now cuts back

Hard-charging rolls out layoffs, shuts overseas offices, China’s hard-charging e-commerce company is retrenching with wide-scale layoffs and shutting most overseas offices, people in the know said, as cost cutting to cope with a slowing economy and rising competition. In recent weeks, Employees described the Beijing-based company experiencing discomfort in recent weeks with a leaked memo targetting underperformers. Some departments have asked their staff to engage in sessions of self-criticism to assess each other’s performances, employees said, and departures occur every day. The Chief Technology Officer, the General Counsel cum Chief Human Resources Officer, and the Chief Public Affairs Officer left the company within weeks of one another, and layoffs then percolated downward to rank-and-file workers, said sources. Some teams will be halved in size and offices in New York, Washington and elsewhere will be shut down. Its artificial-intelligence research centre in Silicon Valley will continue, people said. Mr. Brad Burgess, spokesman for informed that there was no plan for large-scale layoffs and that the company was looking strategically at each office abroad. Trying to be lean, the company is “making organizational adjustments”, he said. “We are going back to our entrepreneurial roots,” he said. “We hope these adjustments will help us return to our previous fast growth.” On Friday, Founder and Chief Executive Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, said on We Chat that hadn’t laid off in four or five years. During that time, the ranks of employees who don’t work hard has grown rapidly, he said. “If we keep going this way, there definitely won’t be hope for JD!” he wrote. “The company will be cruelly eliminated by the market eventually!”

March sees a dip in China’s export container shipping index

Beijing: A lack of demand saw a slump in China’s container transport for export last month, according to the Shanghai Shipping Exchange. The exchange said that in March the average China Containerized Freight Index (CCFI) fell to 830.81, down 6.3 % from the previous month. Monthly average for Q1 in 2019 for the index was 853.28. In March sub-indices for many routes slipped, with that for the Mediterranean route showing the largest decline of 9.4 % from February, followed by that for South America route of 9 %. The CCFI tracks spot and contractual freight rates from Chinese container ports for 12 shipping routes across the globe, based on data from 20 international carriers. The index was set at 1,000 on Jan. 1, 1998.

MaMarch exports for China at 5-month high but imports decelerate

Beijing: China’s exports bounced back in March but imports slipped for four months in a row and at a sharper pace, portraying a mixed picture of their economy as trade talks with the United States reach their final stages.Investors are looking to find signs of economic recovery in China to soothe their concerns about a global slowdown, especially this week after the IMF downgraded its 2019 world outlook for the third time.But experienced China observers hinted that export gains may be due to seasonal factors more than any sudden turnaround in lacklustre global demand, as shipments were expected to pick up after long holidays in February.Customs data showed that March exports – the strongest in five months – rose 14.2 % from last March levels. During a Reuters poll of Economists, expectations were for a 7.3 % gain after February’s 20.8 % plunge.Imports fell 7.6 % from a year earlier, worse than the forecated 1.3 % fall and increasing from February’s 5.2 % drop.

US-China Trade Pact clamps down currency manipulation

Deal may include penalties for China if it manipulates its currency to increase exports
Washington: The prospective US-China trade deal will include measures that American officials say will deter Beijing from currency manipulation by demanding greater disclosure of economic actions, according to current and former officials familiar with the negotiations. It could also imply penalties for China if it manipulates its currency to increase exports, which is a violation of international guidelines.“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 deal is still being negotiated and American officials caution that nothing will be final until both sides agree on all points.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.The measures for greater economic disclosure are aimed at spotlighting monetary policies that fit the pattern of currency manipulation. Beijing keeps the composition of its foreign-exchange reserves or its purchases in currency markets undisclosed. At USD 3 trillion as of last month, they are the world’s largest. That makes it difficult to decipher if Beijing is manipulating the yuan.Last year at a news conference, China’s central bank governor, Mr. Yi Gang, indicated that better disclosure of the central bank’s forex operations would be part of the deal.The currency provisions and the overall deal’s enforcement system have already been hammered out 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.Any more information about currency enforcement rules was not forthcoming from Treasury officials and Robert Lighthize a spokeswoman for U.S. Trade Representative declined to comment. A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.A senior Treasury official said the US-China agreement on currency is similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement revamp 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.Economists and politicians in recent years have grown more worried about countries manipulating their currencies in favour of exports over imports, effectively reducing or 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 Group of 20 leading global economies — but member countries cannot be held responsible for lack of enforcement mechanisms.Major economies and their central banks have been reluctant to tie their own hands down when it comes to monetary tools, seeing it as a key part of economic sovereignty.In 2016, President Trump had threatened that he would formally declare China a currency manipulator once he took office, but his administration backed down on that promise. Administration officials confirm that China has not recently indulged in lowering its currency but could in the future.
Pressing for currency rules in trade agreements has been done by many US lawmakers and some exporting industries. The Obama administration in 2015 spearheaded a nonbinding currency understanding among the U.S. and 11 Pacific countries included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but the Trump administration has withdrawn from that agreement. Then last year, the Trump administration included a currency portion in the USMCA, which awaits Congressional approval. The USMCA language was seen as a deterrent to manipulation. Still, only a section on transparency will be enforceable if the new North American deal enters into force, economists say.It is expected that the China pact will go beyond this on enforcement than just demanding transparency, with penalties for violating international economic principles.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.”Mr. Bergsten said the U.S. and China would likely resolve currency disputes to strictly trade-related issues, perhaps after consultations among economic or Treasury officials from the two nations, with tariffs and perhaps other sanctions being permitted as penalties.Being a purely executive agreement which will not be submitted to Congress for ratification, the U.S.-China deal will not have the same legal structure as a free-trade agreement. Some members of Congress worry the pact could improperly change U.S. trade policies without their approval.


AfDB accelerates African free trade by approving USD 4.8 mn grant

An institutional support grant of USD 4.8 mn has been approved by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to the African Union (AU) to accelerate the momentum of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA)

AfCFTA came into force after it received its 22nd ratification on 2 April 2019. The AfCFTA is a major force for continental integration and is expected to expand intra-African trade by up to USD 35 bn annually and usher in freedom of movement for goods, services and people within the continent by adopting an era of reduced tariffs and non-tariff barriers to cut the cost of doing business on the continent. Agricultural and industrial exports are also expected to rise by up to USD 66bn per year. The grant from AfDB will be utlised in laying the institutional framework for the AfCFTA implementation secretariat and for the implementation of programmes.
Manager for Trade and Investment, Climate Division at AfDB Andoh Mensah 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.”
The grant will mobilise efforts towards full ratification of the agreement by all AU member states. This will include application of tariff reductions and related commitments while generating stakeholder support for the AfCFTA to ensure inclusiveness and common ownership.
This is a definitive response to the call by African political leaders for the bank and other partners to support the AU Commission and work assiduously towards the realisation of AfCFTA objectives.

Human Capital plan launched in Africa by World Bank

Africa’s youth will now be able to grow with optimal health equipped with the right skills to compete in the increasingly digital economy if the plan unveiled by the World Bank goes through.

The Human Capital Index is a measure of how well countries invest in the next generation of workers and sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest scores in the world. The score is loe thsnks to the high mortality and stunting rates in the region, as well as inadequate student learning outcomes – all of which affect economic productivity. World Bank’s Africa Human Capital Plan is helping countries turn these indicators around. It has ambitious targets to be achieved by 2023. Among them are – to reduce in child mortality by saving four mn lives, to avert stunting among 11 mn children and to increase learning outcomes for school girls and boys by 20 %. Once achieved these can raise Africa’s Human Capital Index and increase the productivity of future workers by 13 %. “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 of World Bank for Africa.Another focus area of the plan is to empower women by preventing early marriage and pregnancy for adolescent girls. In the next funding cycle, the World Bank will increase its investments in this programme by 50 %. This will bring under its wings includes new World Bank grants and concessional finance for human capital projects in Africa totalling USD 15bn in fiscal years 2021-23. New interventions that leverage technology and innovation and that prevent and reverse damage to human capital in fragile and conflict-affected settings can also be included under the plan.
“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 Annette Dixon, Vice-President at World Bank human development.

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

An identity solutions provider, HID Global announced that the Tanzanian government has selected HID’s citizen ID solutions to add e-Visa and e-Permit capabilities to its e-Passport
Residents and visitors can apply for and receive validated credentials for travelling or living in the country by this new web-based visa and residence permit service.
Tanzania’s Commissioner General of Immigration, Anna Peter Makakala 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. Vice-President of Sales, Citizen ID Business of HID Global, Rob Haslam said, “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

Committed to supporting the government of Meru county in Kenya the UN-Habitat has come up with a grant for collaboration on Municipal Finance, financed by the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA)The grant will first address implementation of Meru County’s “My Town, my Business” initiative to encourage proactive and responsible citizenship for improved revenue collection and service delivery.Under pressure to increase its own source revenue, for Meru the timing for this initiative could not have been better. Meru’s functios though devolved are estimated to be 12th costliest in the country and yet it gets one of the lowest per capita contributions from the Central Government.Own-source revenue is the only way out and the county government has worked to reach its own revenue collecting USD5.53mn of the targetted USD7.73mn in 2016-17.An annual per capita tax revenue of USD4.07mn (in 2016-17) has compelled the county government to collaborate with the UN-Habitat and benefit from its global expertise in increasing the resources it has available for investing in developing the county.UN-Habitat will provide a team of Municipal Finance experts to analyze tax design and tax collection processes of the county and advise them on comprehensive and actionable recommendations for quick improvements in revenue. The insights drawn will be incorporated in the “My Town, my Business” initiative and become the new flagship programme to be replicated in other parts of Kenya.
The 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 implement the initiative.

Two solar projects in Zambia by Building Energy

Global renewable energy solution provider Building Energy SpA will develop two 20MW ac solar projects in Bulemu, Kabwe District, Zambia, which will generate 50 GWh annually.In the GET FIT tender launched by the Zambian government and KfW private sector investment in the country, the company has been accorded the status of preferred bidder.
A partnership between the Zambian Energy Ministry and the German Development Bank, KfW the GET FiT programme implemented by the GET FiT Secretariat will develop small and medium-scale Renewable Energy Independent Power Projects (IPPs) in Zambia. Apart from South Afrcia, this is the largest single Solar PV tender implemented in Sub-Saharan Africa to date and represents the first phase of implementing the Zambian government’s REFiT strategy launched in 2017. Zambia features an average annual growth in electricity consumption of around 3% and has set a 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 plenty of renewable energy sources, hydropower with 2380 MW being the major contributor to the country’s electricity supply. The awarded tariff of 3.99 USc/Kwh, proposed by Building Energy, is the lowest achieved through a public tender in sub-Sahara Africa for a solar project.Building Energy has a strong presence in Africa’s renewable energy sector across solar, wind and hydro projects. Starting with an office in Cape Town, the company has managed the development and realisation of more than 350MWp of projects in South Africa and in sub-Saharan Africa including Zambia, Uganda and Mali. A photovoltaic plant in Tororo, Eastern Uganda, which started generating energy in October 2017 is one of their projects in Africa.

Anti-bribery certificate to Angola’s Aenergy

The management of Aenergy which operates Angla’s largest thermal power plant and supplies locomotive engines for the nation’s railways, has been certified of being anti-bribery.ISO 37001 is testament proactive anti-bribery measures that indicates how to develop businesses in a transparent way in Africa. Based in the capital city of Luanda Aenergy is guided by international standards of safeguarding and commercial activity noted 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 Ricardo Machado, chairman of Aenergy. Aenergy operates in Ghana, Cameroon, Namibia, Singapore, the UK and the USA besides Angola. It is planning to issue USD400mn in Green Bonds for renewable energy projects in Africa as part of its commitment to innovation.

Transition to civilian government demand demonstrators in Sudan

The military deposes longtime President Omar al-Bashir, sit-ins continue as protesters demand handing over power to civilians
Premises of Sudan’s Defense Ministry were crowded with thousands of demonstrators staging sit-ins defying curfews this weekend. Past protests forced the ouster of long-serving President Omar al-Bashir. These pressed the military to immediately hand power to a transitional civilian government. The main organizer of nationwide protests since December, the Sudanese Professionals Association said that handing over power to a civilian administration was the only real regime change. The only concern of the military was “maintaining their grip on power.” There were musical demonstrations with protesters waving banners, flags and placards staged joyful that some soldiers in uniform joined it near the ministry gates.Demonstrators in Khartoum celebrate on April 13 after Defense Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf stepped down as head of the country’s transitional ruling military council.The face-off between demonstrators and the military junta were intensified by the new demands, and on Thursday they ousted Mr. Bashir after three decades in power. That followed months of unrest that swelled from a demonstration against surging bread prices to a broad-based national pro-democracy movement.Echoing the situation in neighbouring Egypt, protesters fear the military will cling to power. There, the government of President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, after taking control in a popular 2013 coup, has effectively stifled political and popular opposition.To speed the transition to civilian rule the military was urged to join a dialogue and warned the generals against using violence against protesters jointly by the U.S., U.K. and Norway. “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.”After two decades in power, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s resignation came in March followed by the ouster of Mr. Bashir—now under house arrest. As a wave of popular unrest has reverberated across North Africa, protests have also taken place in Tunisia and Morocco, in recent months, in scenes reminiscent of the 2011 Arab Spring revolts.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.The head of the military council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdelrahman said on Saturday that the transitional government would stay in power for a maximum of two years. He ordered the release of people detained during the protests and promised dialogue with opposition members and protest organizers.But protest organizers have ignored the pleas.“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.Judd Devermont, an Africa analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the protesters face the prospect of another protracted fight to force a full transition.“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.Sudan’s armed forces on Thursday announced the removal of Mr. Bashir—a former general who seized power in a 1989 military coup—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. Defense Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, the leader of the military officers who ousted Mr. Bashir, stepped down on Friday after just a day in office. Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh, the powerful head of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service, followed suit on Saturday, in a move some analysts interpreted as a victory for more-moderate forces within the military. The military have been urged to investigate allegations of torture, arbitrary detention and killings since the unrest started by Human-rights groups.“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.

Dutch government: Subsidy for gas turbine project announced

The Dutch government has awarded subsidy to six partners including Ansaldo Thomassen, Delft University of Technology, OPRA Turbines, Vattenfall, Nouryon and EMMTEC for the project ‘High Hydrogen Gas Turbine Retrofit to Eliminate Carbon Emissions’
The subsidy, valued at USD565.58,000, 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. This amount is apportioned among all partners of the consortium based on their specific contributions to the project. The subsidy was approved considering the cooperation of partners from Dutch academia and industry. The focus of the Dutch hydrogen programme is 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 be a carbon-free solution for industry, mobility, housing and the power sector. Developing 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 % natural gas to 100 % hydrogen and any mixture. This is a major challenge as dramatic result in shifting of heat release within the combustor, due to extreme changes in fuel reactivity switching from natural gas to hydrogen, can be physically destructive if not well controlled. The innovative high-technology project revolves around the patented and novel aerodynamic trapped vortex FlameSheet combustion technology platform, owned by Genoa Italy-based Ansaldo Energia. 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. The prime focus of this award from the Dutch government is a full-scale atmospheric verification in 2020, which will ultimately lead to a first engine demonstrator by 2023. Ansaldo Thomassen BV, the lead applicant, is an expert in the field, with experience 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. A manufacturer of gas turbines, OPRA has access to state-of-the-art test facilities which will play an important role in the project. Partners operating the power plant Vattenfall, EMMTEC and Nouryon, will be able to make significant progress in the realization of dry low NOx, carbon-free production of power and heat with the knowledge from this project. 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.

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Focus on digitalisation to innovate and improve productivity: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)

SINGAPORE:The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will focus on digitalisation over the next three years, to help companies innovate and improve productivity. 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. These were announced by Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport & Ministry of Health, at the 4th Singapore Maritime Technology Conference (SMTC).
Ms Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of MPA, said, “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.”
Circle of Digital Innovators Network The CDO network, was set up in late 2018 to help drive transformation through the adoption of technology and innovation. MPA is working with the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) to encourage more maritime corporates to join it. The network started with 23 members, and has since expanded to 46 members.Spearheading digitalisation initiatives in the maritime industry and uplift the innovation hub status of Maritime Singapore is the main goal for the CDO network. Included in the programme are 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 PlanMPA, in partnership with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), will roll out the Sea Transport Industry Digital Plan (IDP) for the ship agency and harbour craft sub-sectors. Aligned to the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map, the Sea Transport IDP 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.

Maritime Transformation: Singapore’s R&D Roadmap to 2030

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. Titled ‘Singapore R&D Roadmap 2030: Maritime Transformation’ the Roadmap helps to create better strategic alignment and resource allocation by funding agencies, industry and our research and technology communities.

Rise seen in box imports into the US

Washington: According to a report by the monthly Global Port Tracker of the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, 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.March imports have reportedly been 1.63 mn TEUs, up 5.9 % year-on-year. April is estimated at 1.75 mn TEUs, up 6.9 %; May at 1.9 mn TEUs, up 4 %; June at 1.89 mn TEUs, up 2 %; July at 1.96 mn TEUs, up 2.9 %, and August at 1.97 mn TEUs, up 4.3 %, reports said.

Top maritime capital position retained by Singapore

Singapore:The Leading Maritime Capitals report, with fresh insight on which maritime metropolises provide the best support for companies in shipping and related services is out for 2019. Criteria include soft and hard infrastructure and access to world class talent and services—all key components that maritime businesses need to thrive in their chosen locations.Singapore maintained its top position at the helm of the 15 leading maritime capitals despite a somewhat weak trade cycle in traditional shipping and offshore oil and gas markets yet to recover, in three of the five pillars of the ranking: Shipping, Ports and Logistics as well as Attractiveness and Competitiveness. In the two remaining pillars, London is number one in Maritime Finance & Law, while Oslo is number one in Maritime Technology. Climbing to third and fourth, respectively, with London rounding out the top five, and Shanghai at number six, on the overall ranking, Hamburg remains in the number two spot, while Oslo drops from third to seventh. Rotterdam and Hong Kong show the biggest improvement, informed a release.”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,” says Shahrin Osman, Regional Head of Maritime Advisory, DNV GL. The awareness in the general public is increasingly steadily 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.To ensure that the analysis is based on reliable and complete data for the various cities, which ultimately allow for a more refined benchmarking of the relative performance of each city, some new and more comprehensive objective and subjective indicators as well as data sources have been used for the 2019 report. “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,” says Erik W. Jakobsen, partner in Menon Economics.
The perception and assessment of each capital as seen by selected business executives from all around the globe, primarily shipowners and managers, are revealed by the subjective indicators. Of the 200 experts called upon to respond to the survey, around 40 % are based in Europe, 30 % in Asia, and the remaining 30 % in America, the Middle East and Africa.Looking five years into the future, the experts 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 added that the Leading Maritime Capitals 2019 report was made in cooperation between Menon Economics and DNV GL.

In event of no-deal Brexit freight sector given more guidance on trade in endangered species

London:UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 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) informed a release.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.”

Good financial results posted by Port of Le Havre for 2018

Le Havre:The Supervisory Board of the Port of Le Havre (part of HAROPA), which met recently, has welcomed the good financial results for 2018, which it said demonstrates a significant improvement in the port’s situation and the restoration of its internal financing capacity. A release said the good balance sheet will allow 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.”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,” said Mr Emmanuèle Perron.The financial condition of the port is excellent. In the same proportions this situation is due to the growth in turnover, the control of expenses, and the support of the state, the release said. The turnover which stands increase at € 195 mn 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 mn for 2018: a result that has tripled in the last five years. The cash flow-to-debt ratio, which indicates the number of years needed to repay the debt, is also improving: 3 years in 2018 against 13 years in 2013.
Change in governance

From April 15, 2019, 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). 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.HAROPA is represented in India by Seahorse Ship Agencies.

Suspension of implementation of their overlapping port limits by Malaysia & Singapore

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, in an effort to make the environment more conducive for the success of their leaders’ upcoming meeting.Moreover, it has also been agreed not to authorise and to suspend all commercial activities in the area, as well as not to anchor any government vessels there, by Singapore and Malaysia. It may be recalled that after Malaysia unilaterally extended the Johor Baru port limits last October, the two countries have been embroiled in a dispute over Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas. At that time Singapore had responded by extending its port limits within its territorial waters. Both sides, however, agreed to de-escalate tensions by jointly suspending their overlapping port claims in March, and reverting to their ports’ former limits, reports said.

Dispute consultations with India sought by EU regarding duties levied on ITC products

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

Amid WTO Battle EU Prepares Tariffs Against U.S.

After 15 years of WTO litigation, U.S. nearing the end of a battle over plane-maker subsidies
Brussel: The European Union is preparing tariffs on USD12 bn 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% Europe’s move came after a U.S. said on Monday it intended to impose tariffs on USD11.2 bn of imports from the EU. Brussels’s swift response highlights its resolve to go blow-for-blow with Washington over the matter. 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 are salvos. 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. Both sides have however agreed to eventually 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. An initial list of USD20 bn worth of U.S. exports is identified by Europe, from which the EU will choose which products to be targeted.

Commitment to deeper collaboration by ICS, ASA and ECSA

Singapore: A joint memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed to enhance their cooperation on relevant maritime issues between the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the Asian Ship Owners’ Association (ASA) and the European Community Ship Owners’ Associations (ECSA). The new MOU, which was signed in Singapore on April 8, 2019, provides a framework for closer cooperation among the three international trade associations. Collectively the trio represents over 90 % of the world merchant fleet. The agreement recognizes their respective memberships of national ship owners’ associations and the relationship which their members enjoy with their national governments.The roles of ICS, ASA and ECSA as the principal global and regional associations, representing ship owners and operators – in all shipping sectors and trades were specifically confirms by the MOU – with those global and regional organisations, regulators and other bodies which affect the interests of international shipping.“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,” Esben Poulsson, ICS Chairman, said.

Commitment to deeper collaboration by ICS, ASA and ECSA

Washington:The National Retail Federation (NRF) said the imports at major U.S. retail container ports dropped 14.3 % in February. According to the latest available data to show retail container port activities, the NRF said that U.S. ports handled 1.62 mn twenty-foot equivalent units, commonly known as TEU, in February.While TEU is a measure used for capacity in container transportation, one TEU usually stands for a 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.“That was down 14.3 % from January and down 4 % year-over-year,” said the NRF.Owning to factory shutdown in Asia during the Lunar New Year, as well as “the lull” between retailers’ holiday and summer seasons, the NRF said that February is “traditionally the slowest month,”.U.S. retailers were starting to stock up for an anticipated strong summer for the outlook of retail imports for the upcoming months, said Vice President Jonathan Gold, for supply chain and customs policy of the NRF.The NRF expected the imports at the major U.S. retail container ports to reach 1.63 mn TEU in March, which was 5.9 % higher year on year.

Six more months given to Britain by European Union for Brexit

Brussels: Thanks to fierce resistance from France, European Union leaders gave Britain six more months to leave the bloc, which is more than Prime Minister Theresa May says she needs but less than many in the bloc wanted.Britain will not crash out without a treaty to smooth its passage as per the summit deal in Brussels in the early hours of Thursday, 11th April. But as May struggles to build support in parliament for withdrawal terms agreed with the EU last year, it offers little clarity on when, how or even if Brexit will happen.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.

Digital Startups to be granted funding by MPA Singapore

Singapore:The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will give SGD 50,000 (USD 36,853) in seed funding to thirteen out of the seventeen technology startups which participated in Singapore’s Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2018.These startups can now develop and test-bed their innovative solutions that were close to reaching the market with this help of this seed funding.An 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, will be given to twelve startups in addition to the seed funding, announced by the MPA and NUS Enterprise, an entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS).The aim of the session is 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: This year despite risks of global slowdown, India to be fastest-growing economy

Washington:Despite risks of a global slowdown, financial markets and crude price volatility, India is pegged to remain to be the fastest-growing economy this year clocking a growth rate of 7.2 % in 2019-20, according to the Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das.To help the country ward off this uncertain environment, he called for greater co-operation among emerging market economies on all fronts which will.”Real GDP growth is expected to clock 7.2 % during 2019-20, the fastest among large economies of the world, growing by an average rate of around 7.5 % in recent years” said Das at the event “Governor Talks” on the sidelines of the Fund-Bank Spring Meetings, 2019, Washington DC.